In the northern town of Khaldiya, 60km from Amman, extensive agriculture and animal farming has produced a tremendous amount of animal waste, most of which has remained untreated, causing worrying safety and health hazards for the local population.
Safety and health hazard
This lack of manure treatment has put a strain on the public areas, which have seen the spread of disease and harmful pathogens, ultimately threatening the growth of crops and crippling the farming business in the Mafraq Governorate.
To counter this issue, UNDP Jordan established a manure treatment facility at the Al Hussainiyat landfill site in the autumn of 2017, aiming to reduce the local waste problem and improve the community’s sanitation.
“The real purpose of all of this effort is to bring the Khaldiya area back to life through recycling and caring for the environment,” said Khaled Abu Kaf, operations manager at Future Pioneers, stressing the need to reinstill the practice of manure treatment among the locals.
“The biggest challenge since the project was launched has been to change the traditional mind-sets of local farmers to embrace the science that treated manure is in fact better for their crops,” Abu Kaf explained, citing the many obstacles the facility has faced so far.
For this purpose, the facility has hosted regular awareness sessions for the local farmers, which explore the science behind treating manure for yielding better crop outcomes, UNDP Country Director, Sara Ferrer Olivella said, noting that the facility also sends engineers to the local farms for field visits, offering advice on how to better manage their waste.
“If local farmers persist in their ambivalence towards the new technology, the facility then offers free samples of the finished product so that the farmers may test the treated manure for themselves,” Olivella said.
Local solution to national challenges
According to national figures, over 2.2 million tonnes of solid municipal waste is generated each year, of which only 7 per cent is recycled or salvaged, mostly by the informal sector. This waste is further growing by an additional 5 per cent annually, the National Solid Waste strategy report showed.
Each day, the Khaldiya facility receives 40 to 45 tonnes of manure, 60 per cent of which comes from the local dairy farms while the remaining 40 per cent comes from the local poultry farms, Abu Kaf explained, noting that it takes about 60 to 90 days to treat 40 tonnes of manure through composting methods before it is safely repackaged and resold to the community.
A team of 15 local workers begins by conducting the packaging process for heavier products (approximately 30kg), which are sent to the farmers. Meanwhile, on a separate packaging site some 11km away from the facility, local women proceed to containing the smaller packages (five to 10kg) which are distributed to local gardeners and landscapers.
There, the work is conducted by the community based organisation Khaldiya Women’s Society, which supports local women in need of financial support.
Um Suhaib, who manages Khaldiya Women’s Society, described her responsibility at the women’s packaging facility as “difficult but highly rewarding”.
“My biggest responsibility here is overseeing the progress at the packaging facility,” she explained, adding “but another large part of my job here is to provide a safe space for any new women who would like to find a job here.”
Mafraq Governorate, which is located near the Syrian border, hosts the second largest number of refugees in Jordan, with over 162,888 Syrian refugees recorded by the UNHCR as of the end of July.
The establishment of the Khaldiya recycling facility has helped many of these refugees and low income Jordanians to earn small wages and improve their livelihoods.
For Um Suhaib, this project has greatly contributed to job creation for vulnerable women, who therefore managed to contribute to their families’ income.
“For a lot of women, it takes courage to come out and work. But, after all, they make me proud,” she underscored, adding: “What is most important is that, at Khaldiya Women’s Society, we are able to empower these women by enabling them to take control of their lives. When they work and earn the money themselves to bring home, they become empowered.”
Noting that the waste economy is slowly becoming "one of the most vibrant economic sectors globally" Olivella said, “the sound management of wastes is an important component of UNDP’s efforts to achieve sustainable, inclusive and resilient human development and the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The project is part of UNDP Jordan’s efforts to address environmental challenges across the Kingdom. Along with its partners, UNDP enhances the development and adoption of green building codes and assists in setting up mechanisms in governorates to enforce these codes, a UNDP statement said.