Waste Management Perspectives for Oman

recycling-OmanGlobalization and modernization have led to increased consumption among the Omani population. Reportedly, the average Omani household throws away one-third of the food it purchases. Conspicuous consumption fuelled by peer pressure and effective advertising brings more goods and products into the home than the family members can actually make use of. And along with the increase in merchandise comes a lot of extra packaging. Product packaging now accounts for the bulk of what is thrown into household rubbish bins.

The urge to keep pace with what one’s neighbours, relatives and peers acquire means higher rates of consumption: a new mobile phone every year instead of every five to ten years, a new car every three years instead of every twenty to thirty years, and so on. Consumption becomes excessive when we cannot make use of what we obtain. The result is waste. Yet the seeds of positive, environmentally-sustainable, community-based waste management are here in the Omani culture and tradition: they just need to be replanted in the right places and nurtured.

Why should anyone be interested in the issue of household waste in Oman? We can start by observing a few important facts—some positive and some negative—about Oman’s relationship with environmental and sustainability issues. As early as 1974, the governmental office of the Advisor on Environmental Affairs was established in Oman. Later on, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs took its place.[i] Environmental protection, sustainable development, and with that, waste management, are stated priorities for the Omani government.[ii]

Yet Oman has a long way to go when it comes to waste management. More than 350 registered landfills and dumpsites are active around the country, in addition to which, illegal and unmonitored dumpsites are often started by residents of underserved areas.[iii] Currently, the Omani population country-wide produces approximately 700 grams of solid waste per person, and in the Muscat area, the average per person is nearly one kilogramme.[iv] Furthermore, the amount generated per person is projected to increase year by year for the next ten years.[v] According to a study in 2012 by Sultan Qaboos University’s Department of Natural Resource Economics, the average Omani family wastes one-third of its food. That is, approximately seventy riyals worth of food per month is thrown out, not eaten.[vi]

Three important statistics to keep in mind as we discuss the situation in Oman: First, immigrants (migrant workers, expatriates, etc.) account for over thirty percent of the total population in Oman, so we cannot say that this is solely an “Omani” issue. It is an issue that affects all residents in Oman: Omanis and non-Omanis alike. Second, sixty percent of Oman’s population live in cities and large towns. Third, household consumption (i.e., purchases by household members to meet their everyday needs and maintain their current standard of living) accounts for 35.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).[vii] Compare Oman’s proportion to that of the United States, where household consumption as a percentage of GDP is almost double, at 70 percent.[viii]

Recycling efforts in Oman

Recycling efforts in Oman have until now been scattered and not coordinated. So far, all recycling programmes have been initiated by private entities such as schools, businesses, charitable organizations and non-profit environmental groups.[ix] Most recycling programmes have been only temporary, such as the Dar al Atta’a initiative to collect and recycle used clothing in 2013,[x] or very limited in geographical extent, such as the paper and plastic recycling efforts of local schools in the Muscat area. Lacking ongoing funding and logistical support from the government sector, many of these initiatives were unable to gain traction and eventually had to shut down.[xi]

Recycling rate in Oman is still very low

Recycling rate in Oman is still very low

The four Rs (reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle) of waste management have not yet entered the everyday discourse of Oman, but does this mean that they are not part of everyday life in Oman? We think the people of Oman can help us to answer this question. For this purpose, a pilot study was designed, a questionnaire was prepared, and in a series of interviews with individual Omanis we recorded their responses.

The Pilot Survey

The questionnaire covered household consumption habits, food waste and other household waste, and awareness of the four Rs, with particular attention to recycling. The main focus of the survey was on food waste. Of the 21 questions, fifteen were multiple-choice, with write-in options for any needed explanation. There were six open-ended questions, inviting respondents to give their opinion or share something of their experiences and knowledge of the topic.

In the tradition of an anthropological study, the survey was specifically designed to be presented orally as a series of questions to individual respondents in a face-to-face interview setting. The questions were written in English but presented in Arabic to most of the respondents. Conversely, responses were given orally in Arabic and recorded in writing either in Arabic and then translated, or directly translated into English as they were written down.

The respondents were all adult Omani nationals, ranging in age from their early twenties to their late fifties. All respondents reside in Muscat, but the majority were originally from other provinces and maintained a strong connection with their home village or town. The respondents represented various occupations such as: university student, homemaker, bank clerk, teacher, taxi driver and police officer. The interviews were carried out in March and April 2016.

The major outcomes of the pilot survey are described in the second part of the article which is available at this link.

References


[i] Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs. n.d. ‘About the Ministry.’ MECA website. https://www.meca.gov.om/ar/module.php?module=pages-showpage&CatID=1&ID=1 (accessed 30/03/2016)

[ii] Omanuna Government Entities List. n.d. http://goo.gl/zO4bXZ (accessed 30/03/2016)

[iii] Zafar, S. 2015. ‘Solid Waste Management in Oman.’ EcoMena Knowledge Bank. 27 January, 2015 https://www.ecomena.org/solid-waste-oman/ (accessed 20/02/16)

[iv] Palanivel, T.M. and H. Sulaiman. 2014. ‘Generation and Composition of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.’ ICESD 2014. APCBEE Procedia 10(2014): 96–102 (accessed 20/02/16)

[v] World Bank. 2015. ‘What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management.’ http://go.worldbank.org/BCQEP0TMO0 (accessed 22/04/16)

[vi] ‘Average Omani family wastes one-third of food.’ Gulf News. 23 June 2012 (accessed 28/02/16) http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/oman/average-omani-family-wastes-one-third-of-food-1.1039366

[vii] Central Intelligence Agency. 2016. The World Factbook. ‘Oman’.  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mu.html (accessed 20/02/16)

[ix] Environment Society of Oman. n.d. ‘Project Recycling’. http://www.eso.org.om/index/pdf/ESO_Project_Recycling_En.pdf (accessed 10/04/16)

[x] ‘Dar Al Atta’a Raises RO 12,000 by recycling donated clothes.’ Muscat Daily. 19 August 2013. http://goo.gl/KeRkf1 (accessed 22/02/16)

 

[xi] ‘Ecologists in Oman pitch for recycling waste.’ Times of Oman.  4 August 2014.  http://timesofoman.com/article/38045/Oman/Ecologists-in-Oman-pitch-for-recycling-waste (accessed 22/02/16)

 

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Landscaping 101: How it Adds Value to Your Property

There is no way of predicting what might happen in your life. Not to mention, the housing market is always prone to fluctuations. In other words, the option of selling property is always on the table. This is why if you’re a person who thinks ahead, you should always be looking for ways to add value to your property. While there are a lot of ways, a simple, foolproof, way to boost your property’s value is landscaping.

alhambra-garden

A proper, well-maintained garden can easily add up over a thousand dollars to the value of your property because, as you probably know, a good looking landscape can accentuate the look of a house. On the other hand, a neglected landscape can ruin everything. Now that we have established the importance of landscaping, in order for you to properly increase the value of your house, you need to understand how does landscaping actually increase your property’s value.

  1. It gives off a good first impression

Imagine that you’re going to look at a property. What is the first thing that you encounter? Almost always the answer would be the landscape. If the grass is healthy, good-looking, and evenly trimmed, the impression you’d get is that if the owners take that much care of the grass, the inside of the house must be in perfect shape too. This can make buyers more willing to offer more for the house.

  1. It allows the owner to increase their selling price

A house increases in value according to what it offers. A house with a pool, for example, is expected to be sold at a higher price than a regular house. It’s the same thing when it comes to houses with a decent looking landscape construction.

A landscape with a professional look simply gives you all the more reason to bump up your selling price. After all, all that care for your landscape must have cost you something.

  1. It is a time-proof feature

What sets apart landscaping from other value-boosting alterations is that it never goes out of style. People will always want a decent looking landscape in front of their house. You never hear anyone saying, “my wife and I are looking for a patchy, sunburnt garden,” right?

Nevertheless, it is possible to hear people complaining about a house design being too tacky, or too old. Not to mention, good landscaping provides a good foundation for plants to grow in a healthier, and more even manner.

Final Thoughts

After going through all of the above, it is easy to feel that you want to take your landscaping game to the next level. It is important, however, that you remember to not get carried away. Too much landscaping is simply going to look overwhelming for buyers. Think of it that way. If you workout everyday until you sculpt an amazing body, you would need to keep working out everyday, with the same intensity, in order to maintain it. To house buyers, an overly done landscaping would seem like too much of a high maintenance feature.

المبنى الأخضر في الأردن – نافذة جديدة على البيئة

في  دول العالم المتقدم , أصبح الحوار الذي ينافس السياسة و القضايا المجتمعية هو البيئة . أصبحت البيئة محط أنظار الجميع الان بعد سنين طوال من السعي وراء التكنولوجيا و التطور و إهمالها بشكل ملحوظ . إن مفهوم البيئة لم يعد مقتصرا على النظافة و توفير المياه فحسب , بل أصبحت الدول و القارات تتنافس في مجال انتاج الطاقة النظيفة ( طاقة الرياح , الشمسية , الطاقة المائية , طاقة الحرارة الأرضية , طاقة المد و الجزر و طاقة الكتل الحرارية ) وذلك بعد الجزم بإمكانيتها في  تأمين طاقة يمكن الإعتماد عليها في شتى الميادين و بشكل رئيسي بدلا من الطاقة النفطية التي تعتبر طاقة قابلة للنفاذ السريع .

في بداية الأمر انحصر تطبيق المشاريع الخاصة في مجال توليد الطاقة النظيفة و اعتماد مبدأ " المباني الخضراء "  في الدول المتقدمة فقط , كأوروبا و أمريكا الشمالية حيث الإمكانيات و المساحة الواسعة و تقبلهم لهذه الفكرة بشكل سريع , نظرا للوعي و الثقافة الجيدة في تلك المنطقة  .

ما هو المبنى الأخضر

المبني الأخضر هو المبنى الذي يراعي الاعتبارات البيئية في كل مرحلة من مراحل البناء، وهي التصميم، التنفيذ، التشغيل والصيانة، والاعتبارات الرئيسية التي تراعي تصميم الفراغات وكفاءة الطاقة والمياه، وكفاءة استخدام الموارد، وجودة البيئة الداخلية للمبنى، وأثر المبنى ككل على البيئة.الفرق الرئيسي بين المباني الخضراء والمباني التقليدية هو مفهوم التكامل، حيث يقوم فريق متعدد التخصصات من المتخصصين في البناء بالعمل معا منذ مرحلة ما قبل التصميم إلى مرحلة ما بعد السكن لتحسين خواص الإستدامة البيئية للمبنى وتحسين الأداء والتوفير في التكاليف.

الأبنية الخضراء في الأردن

بالحديث عن مفهوم المبنى الأخضر  في الأردن , فإن انتشاره لم يكن ذو رواج كبير و لكنه بدأ يلقى اهتماما منذ الاربع سنين الماضية . وفكرة أن تقنع المواطن و المؤسسات الحكومية و الخاصة بفوائد المبنى الأخضر كانت من المستحيلات في بداية الأمر .

مفهوم المبنى الأخضر يحتاج للدعم كي يشعر الجميع بأهميته حيث أنه سيقدم فوائداً مالية و بيئية للأفراد الأردنيين , و منها :

الفوائد الإقتصادية

البناء الأخضر سوف  يحفز صناعة حديثة في الأردن لمواد وتكنولوجيات  جديدة تلزم في عمليات  البناء. مما قد يوفر فرص عمل جديدة و يحسن هذه الصناعة في الأردن لما لها من أهمية في المستقبل . من المرجح ارتفاع أسعار النفط مستقبلا . فبالتالي ستساعد الابنية الخضراء  على الحد من استهلاكه و تقليص التكاليف المتعلقة بالكهرباء و الوقود .

الفوائد البيئية

ترتيب المملكة هو الحادي عشر من حيث أفقر البلدان في مصادر المياه لذلك فإن فائدة وجود مبان  خضراء سيوفر الكثير من ناحية المياه و شحها العام . المورد الشمسي في المملكة ضخم  حيث انها تتمتع ب333 يوما شمسياً أي ما يعادل 8 ساعات مشمسة في اليوم الواحد من السنة, و بالتالي فإن أنظمة التسخين الشمسية التي تستعمل في المباني الخضراء ستكون ناجحة و فعالة  .رفع كفاءة استخدام الطاقة في المباني من خلال اختيار مواد وأساليب العزل الأنسب .

كيف نعزز فكرة البناء الأخضر في الأردن ؟

تعزيز الوعي حول بناء مجتمع أخضر و أهميته للفرد و المجتمع .

فرض قوانين رسمية تعنى بأمور البناء الخاصة للمباني الخضراء .

تطوير القدرات و الإمكانيات التي من شأنها دعم مشاريع المباني الخضراء في الأردن , أي المساعدة في توفير المواد الخام و المساحات و ما إلى ذلك من السبل التي تعزز تمكين فكرة المبنى الأخضر بسهولة في الأردن .

التحديات التي تواجه الأبنية الخضراء في الأردن

هناك العديد من مهندسي البناء و المعماريين في الأردن ليس لديهم خبرة و معلومات كافية حول كيفية بناء و تصميم أبنية خضراء .

المواطنون قد لا يقتنعون بأن البناء الأخضر قد يساهم في توفير المياه و الكهرباء فلن يغامروا ببنائه .

المواطنون قد لا يفضلون التصاميم المحصورة للأبنية الخضراء من ناحية ترتيب الغرف و الاماكن .

في الأردن ليس هناك صناعة قوية لمواد البناء الخاصة بالمباني الخضراء , وفي حال الحاجة لها يتم استيرادها لكن بأسعار باهظة جدا .

وضع الأردن البيئي الان 

الأردن حاله كحال أي دولة تقع في منطقة الشرق الأوسط , ما زال موضوع الإهتمام بقضايا البيئة بالنسبة لمجتمعه أمر رفاهي لا يسمن و لا يغني من جوع , لكن مع تقارب العوالم و اتساع دائرة التواصل , تحركت مجموعات بيئية عدة قاموا بتطوير  انفسهم من هواة و متطوعين غير منظمين إلى منظمات و جمعيات و مجالس بيئية تسعى جادة لتطوير الوضع في الأردن . اصبح هناك جمعيات و منظمات تعنى بالبيئة الاردنية و بشكل جدي , و هناك مشاريع تقام على ارض الواقع كمشروع الخلايا الشمسية و مشاريع توفير المياه في شتى مناطق المملكة و لكن بتفاعل بطيء من المجتمع المحلي .

*في 11/اكتوبر/2009 تم إعلان أول جمعية مهنية غير ربحية غير حكومية تعنى و بشكل متخصص بمفهوم الأبنية الخضراء في الأردن وهي المجلس الأردني للأبنية الخضراء Jordan GBC  , و يضم المجلس مجموعة من المهندسين و الباحثين المهتمين بمجال البيئة المستدامة و الطاقة المتجددة و ترسيخ و تطبيق فكرة المبنى الأخضر بشكل جدي في الأردن , كما  تضم بعضويتها شركات وخبراء من مختلف الأعمال والتخصصات المرتبطة بتصميم المباني وتزويدها وإنشاءها في الأردن .

 و بصدد العمل على مشاريع توسيع هذه الفكرة , كان نشاط الجمعية واضحا فقد  وقع المجلس الاردني للأبنية الخضراء ومشروع الوكالة الأمريكية للإنماء الدولي اتفاقية منحة تنفيذ برنامج يهدف الى رفع كفاءة استخدام الطاقة من خلال تشجيع مالكي ومطوري الأبنية الجديدة على إدخال تطبيقات عملية وأساسية عند التصميم والتنفيذ. أما الخطوة الأقوى في تطوير هذا المفهوم كانت في نهاية عام 2013 حيث انضم المجلس الأعلى للابنية الخضراء إلى التحالف العالمي الجديد للمدارس الخضراء، ليصبح عضوا مؤسسا  في الائتلاف، والتي تعمل على توجيه المدارس والمجتمعات المحلية إلى تغيير جذري في طريقة تربية الطلاب على المفاهيم والمبادئ الخضراء.

كما قام هذا المجلس بالتنسيق مع وزارة التربية و التعليم الاردنية بعقد دورات تثقيفية و توعوية حول مفهوم المدارس الخضراء .ربما تعتبر خطوات الأردن نحو تطوير بيئي ملحوظ  بطيئة و منهكة , و لو تحدثنا بشكل خاص عن مفهوم " المبنى الأخضر " فإن الأمر قد يزداد صعوبة و تحديات , لكن بما ان هناك جمعيات و مؤسسات و أفراد يسعون لتطوير الوضع البيئي فهناك نافذة جديدة سوف تفتح للأجيال القادمة تطل على مستقبل أردني جديد  مخضرّ .

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What Every Muslim Should Do For The Planet

When it comes to our responsibilities as Muslims in protecting the planet, there are no blurred lines. As citizens of this planet, it is our obligation to do our part, both as individuals and as a community. This means, that we look environmental sustainability in the eye – that we begin to introspect our lifestyles, and make choices that are compatible with the well being of our home and the teachings of our faith.

If you’re new to this conversation, then here’s my invitation for you: continue reading. Here are some of my top tips to help you embark on a green and ecofriendly journey.

Practice your faith

Islam teaches us to live with compassion and grace, and this includes our treatment of the planet. As Salman Zafar, Founder of EcoMENA, says: “The Holy Qur’an has a number of specific references to ecology and also contains some important principles for environmental conservation.” Click here to learn more about the environmental teachings of Islam. Treading softly and with the planet in mind is undoubtedly part of our faith.

Learn the facts

We’ve all heard the terms “Climate Change” and “Global Warming.” But how many of us actually know the science behind it. When it comes to living more sustainably, we need to learn the facts. Think about it, we live in a world where the president of the most powerful country denies Climate Change. If we want to do our part in protecting the planet, we need to know the details. One of my favourite reads has to be This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. There are loads of resources out there. Seek them.

Action time

Once we become more aware of environmental issues, we are able to make better choices in our own lives. The more we know, the more we can implement positive habits into our day to day. When we talk about sustainability, we have to recognize that the choices we make matter. We also have to believe in our own power – as individuals and as a community – for creating change. Often, government leaders, businesses and organizations make us feel helpless. In reality, what we pay for, is one of the most effective ways of voting for the world we want.

Let’s break it down now: what do we mean when we say our daily actions matter? Anything from what you wear, to what you eat, how you get from one place to another matters. When we talk about sustainability, we have to think about the amount of waste and trash we produce. There are so many ways for you to get involved, but don’t get overwhelmed: here are seven practical tips to help you get started.

Spread the word

And finally: spread the word. Who said you can’t be an eco-warrior? Climate Change is the most urgent issue we face as a global community. The finite nature of it means that the clock is ticking. We need all hands on deck. Lead by example, and show those around you how you can live a beautifully sustainable life – one that is aligned with the teachings of our faith, the well being of our planet and our own health and wellness. It’s a win-win if you ask me.

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سوسة النخيل الاحمر : التهديد الحقيقي لشجر النخيل في الشرق الاوسط

التهديد الحقيقي في الوقت الحاضر لشجر المخيل هو بسبب سوسة النخيل . هذا المخلوق موطنه اساسا من جنوب اسيا , ولكنه نشر اجنحته عبر العالم . تستطيع ان تدمر هذة السوسة بساتين النخيل , او زيت النخيل او جوز الهند , خلال ال30 سنة الاخيرة استطاعت هذة السوسة و التي احيانا يطلق عليها سوسة التمر من اختراق 60 دولة وقد وصلت الى الشرق الاوسط , شمال افريقيا , وجنوب اوروبا عبر الكاريبي .

طوارئ في الشرق الاوسط 

بدات هذة السوسة في الظهور في السعودية و الامارات في منتصف الثمانينات , اليوم مزارع شجر النخيل في جنوب غرب السعودية اصبحت مصابه , في نهاية التسعينات وجدت هذة السوسة في الاردن و اسرائيل و السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية .

سوسة النخيل الاحمر لدية إصابة عنيفة لاكثر من 40 نوع من النخيل , إنها مدمرة على الاقتصاديين المحلي و العالمي وتسبب خسائر في ملايين الدنانير سنويا , مزارعي النخيل في هذة المنطقة يقدر الجدية في المشكله .

تحدي  للكشف

سوسة النخيل ليس من السهل تحديدها في المزارع , انثى السوسة تبيض 300 بيضة داخل جذع النخله , تفقص البيض بعد 2-5 ايام , لذلك , عندما تكون في مرحلة اليرقه , تفتح جحور اخرى في جذع النخيل , هذة السوسة تاكل و تدمر النخله من الداخل , مرحلة اليرقات حوالي 55 يوم و بعدها تنتقل الى المرحلة الانتقالية , السوسة البالغه تظهر بعد 2-3 اسابيع , لذلك دورة الحياة حوالي 4 اشهر .

بسبب ان مراحل تطور السوسة تتم خلال الجذع يصبح من الصعب اكتشافها , عندما يتم اكتشافها يكون متأخر كثيرا .وتكون النخلة ضعيفة و تصبح بنية اللون .

الضعف هو نتيجة الفجوات التي بداخل الجذع , ويصبح ما داخل النخلة عبارة عن مادة لزجه (عصيده ) وتكون هناك رائحه سيئة مثل اسهال طفل صغير .

نظام محاصرة 

كيف استطاعت المزارع اكتشاف وجود هذة الحشرات داخل النخيل ؟ انه سؤال ممتع , كما تستطيع الكلاب ان تشم الروائح الكريهه ,العمال الموسميين الجيدين مع خبرة و دقة في السمع يستطيعوا ان يسمعوا القضم داخل الجذع . عندما يتم اكتشاف ذلك فانه يتم قطع المقطع , ووضع بقية الأشجار في الحجز لحين أن يتم تعقيمها في المبيدات الحشرية , يستطيعوا ان يضعوا كمائن مخصبة في المبيدات الحشريه . لالتقاط السوسة الناضجه .

الطرق الحالية لالتقاط السوسة , تتضمن مصائد فيرمونات , البخاخ الكيميائي و الذي يتضمن ايضا الاوراق ,ويتم حقن الجذوع . السيطرة البيلوجية مثل البكتيريا , الفطريات و الديدان الخيطية لا تستطيع التصرف بعدوانية بشكل كاف ضد عدوانية السوسة . غزو السوسة تحتاج الى معالجة عنيفة و طويله باستخدام السموم الكيماوية لهزيمة هذا الغازي القوي.

التجاهل ليس نعمه

كما ان هناك انواع لديها اشكالية , الناس غير مدركين لإمكانيات التهديد لصناعة الزراعه , في جنوب اسيا , هذة السوسة من الاطعمه الشهية ,لذلك الناس بذلوا جهود كبيرة لاستيراد السوسة عبر الحدود , قوانين قطع الحدود موجوده لكن من  خلال المسافرين الذين ينقلون اشجار نخيل صغيرة كزينه و لا يعلموا ان هناك اصابة في هذة الاشجار . كما تم تقديم العديد من الانواع , تنمو في بيئة جديدة و تتكاثر بسرعه .

جنوب كاليفورنيا لديهم ممارسة كبيرة للتأثير المدمر لسوسة النخيل الاحمر . وحيث ان الجو عبر العالم زادت رطوبته حول العالم , اصبح اكثر ملائمه لاجتياح الاصناف .

وقت للفعل

المجتمع الدولي و الفاو يقومون بتقديم استراتيجيات لتحديد استيراد شجر النخيل بناءا على حجمها , المقترح الحالي هو حظر استيراد أي نخيل , انها اكبر من قطرها من 6سم من الدول التي تعاني من المرض , ولكن تعزيز التشريعات و التعامل مع العدوى تحتاج التمويل و طرق ماهرة في الزراعه و دوائر الجمارك .

ترجمةالمهندسة رنا الحجايا

حاصله على الماجستير في هندسة مصادر المياه و البيئة ,و حاصله على الدبلوم المتخصص في العمل الاجتماعي للاجئين و المهاجرين من الجامعه الالمانية . مواليد الكرك عام 1977  وهي من المهتمين في المشاريع البيئية و خاصه مشاريع المياه , سبق ان عملت كرئيسة بلدية لدورتين و هي من الناشطات في المجال السياسي و البيئي , لها العديد من المقالات السياسية و الاجتماعية . و عملت كمستشارة لتنمية المجتمع المحلي و البيئة و كعضو ناشط في العديد من الجمعيات الخيرية.

Helping The Environment Starts In Our Home: Here’s Why

The environment has numerous benefits that it offers to us which is the reason as to why it needs to be well conserved. There are a lot of measures that one can take to help in environmental conservation. However, it is a task that begins from our own homes. We have a lot of pollutants in our homes and we can prevent these from going into the environment through simple acts. Below are 5 simple tips to conserve environment from home:

  1. Minimizing wastage of food

Food waste causes a lot of environmental pollution. Statistics have proven that a significant percentage of food gets wasted every day around the globe. Wasted food is thrown away into landfills where it emits emit methane gas, a highly potent greenhouse gas, which causes climate change.

We can ensure that we reduce the level of methane gas that goes into the atmosphere by managing our consumption of food by preparing food that is just enough.

  1. Installing bins

Bins also help to ensure that you do not litter unnecessarily, thus ensuring that the environment is kept clean. There are various places where one can purchase affordable bins that they can use in their home. Jack Martin from Backyard Bins (https://www.backyardbins.com.au/) advises clients that when planning to declutter, one should go through their possessions and select the items that they most often use and separate them from the items they do not use. They should then take to storage the possessions that are still valuable and throw out the possessions that are not valuable. These can be put in bins and recycled or put to better use.

What makes this company stand out is the fact that they aim at recycling waste and thus helping to reduce environmental pollution. Their bins come in varying sizes where you can choose the size that will be perfect to suit your needs. Their bins can be used to collect garbage not only from your home but also from your garden thus making it more convenient.

  1. Recycling and reusing

You can also go an extra mile in caring for the environment by recycling. There are various items in a home that you can use more than once so as to reduce your domestic waste. Some of these include plastic containers and plastic bags.

Disposing these off after using them once is a hazard to the environment as plastic is not biodegradable. You can also use the services of a bin and rubbish collection company that recycle the waste that they collect from households.

  1. Getting into gardening

There is usually a lot of space in our homes that is left bare and unused. However, we can turn such spaces outside our houses to little and manageable gardens. Having a garden gives a reflection of green around us.

A green look in our surroundings give us the feel of being more responsible of our environment. Having a garden will give you additional waste in your household and you can dispose of this waste by having bins that will cater for both your household needs and your garden needs.

  1. Using better cleaning methods

When you are cleaning your household, there are cleaning ingredients that you can use that can be hazardous to our surrounding. These include bleach, soaps and other cleaning agents that contain toxic substances that can cause harm to human health if they are deposited to the environment.

Instead of using strong and harmful cleaning agents, one can decide to make their own soap using substances that are more environmental friendly. One can also carry out research to find out the varieties of cleaning agents available that are environmentally friendly.

  1. Limit shopping

It is enjoyable to go on a shopping spree every now and then. However, carrying out excessive shopping can be a cause for environmental pollution. When you shop a lot of products for your household, it means that you increase your household waste due to the packaging tins and papers that you have to throw away.

Having a lot of shopping will also lead to wastage as you will not have the zeal to reduce food wastage. When people carry out excessive shopping, it also leads to an increase in production levels. Overproduction causes pollution as it means that the industries have a lot of waste to dispose off. The resources that are also used to make these products will also be depleted.

Conclusion

The environment is the source of everything that we require in our daily life starting from our food, to our clothes and to the paper that we write on. For this reason we should practice daily habits from our homes that will help us to conserve the environment. Each of the above methods will take little effort to practice. All that these methods need is a little discipline and also the passion to protect one’s surroundings.

الحس البيئي – البعد النفسي والروحي

الحس البيئي كمفهوم كان محط حوار جمعني عبر وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي مع الخبير العماني في الشأن البيئي المهندس يحيى البلوشي، ووجدت ان ذلك يدخل ضمن واقع مؤثرات العلاقة التي تربط الانسان مع المحيط البيئي ما دفعني الى اعتبار ان الحس البيئي يتمثل في منظومة المشاعر والاحاسيس النفسية والروحية والقيم والمفاهيم المرتبطة بالعلاقة الانسانية مع البيئات الطبيعية والمحيط البيئي للانسان وتلك العلاقة والارتباط الوجداني يترك اثره المباشر والفعلي في تكون قيم السلوك الرشيد والمسؤولية الاخلاقية للفرد والمجتمع في تبني ثقافة العلاقة الموزونة والنهج الواعي في تنظيم العلاقة السليمة مع النظم البيئية وصونها من مختلف اشكال التلويث والتدمير وبناء ثقافة مجتمعية تساهم في تحقيق إستدامة معالم النظام البيئي.

المحفز الفعلي في تكوين الحس البيئي للفرد والجماعة يتمثل في القيمة المادية والمعيشية والروحية للبيئات الطبيعية كمصدر للحياة واستدامة البقاء، وأيضا في عنصر الخطر الذي تتسببه الممارسات غير الرشيدة وتدمير نظم البيئات الطبيعية المصدر الحيوي لحياة وبقاء الانسان، وانعدام المسؤولية الاخلاقية في العلاقة مع نظافة المحيط البيئي وتلويث محيطه الحيوي والتسبب في الاخلال بالامن البيئي للانسان.

الأثر الفعلي لذلك الواقع يمكن ان نلمسه في سياق قراءة الاحداث المرتبطة بواقع العلاقة مع معالم النظام البيئي، وتتجسد تلك الاحداث في جوانب العلاقة غير المسؤولة وغير الاخلاقية مع نظم البيئات الطبيعية والمحيط البيئي للانسان المتمثلة في استخدام البيئة في العمليات الحربية والقاء النفايات في البيئات الطبيعية وإغراق وطمر النفايات الخطيرة في أراضي ومياه الدول، وتنفيذ الانشطة التنموية غير المدروسة والتسبب في تدمير معالم البيئات الطبيعية وتلويث المحيط البيئي بالمخلفات والغلاف الجوي بالانبعاثات الخطيرة-

وكذلك المواقف الملموسة للانسان التي تجسد مشاعره وأحاسيسه في تفعيل المواقف الإيجابية التي تدفع باتجاه تجنيب النظام البيئي خطر تدهوره، وذللك الواقع يندرج ضمن معادلة ردات الفعل الانساني في قمع الانشطة المدمرة للبيئة وبناء المقومات القانونية والادارية والفنية والرقابية كادوات مهمة في تنظيم العلاقة مع معالم البيئات الطبيعية وصون إستدامة النظام البيئي.

هنا يمكن القول ان الخطر الذي يهدد مصالح الانسان يؤدي الى ردت الفعل وتلك هي المشاعر الانسانية التي تجسد واقع الحس البيئي، وان ما توصلت اليه البشرية من تفاهمات وتحديد المعايير الدولية في شأن تنظيم العلاقة مع النظام البيئي وبناء القواعد القانونية والادارية والرقابية كأدوات ردع للمخالفات والتجاوزات في العلاقة مع البيئة وفرض المسار السليم في تنظيم العلاقة المتبادلة بين الانسان والنظم البيئية لصون حياة الانسان وإستدامة بقائه على البسيطة تمثل تجسيدا فعليا لمضمون وجوهر الحس البيئي.

Mitigating the Effects of Sand and Dust Storms

Sand and dust storms cause significant negative impacts on society, economy and environment at local, regional and global scale.  There are three key factors responsible for the generation of sand and dust storms – strong wind, lack of vegetation and absence of rainfall. The environmental and health hazards of such storms cannot be reduced permanently, however its impact can be reduced by taking appropriate measures.

As the dust cloud rises, it reduces the horizontal visibility which can impact human life in many ways. The fine suspended particles also contain contaminants, bacteria, pollens, which cause negative health impacts such as allergies and respiratory diseases. Dust also carries air borne pollutants such as toxins, heavy metals, salt, sulphur, pesticides etc which cause significant health impacts when people inhale the contaminated dust.  Dust can corrode buildings and other built infrastructure as it contains high level of salts, especially in the GCC countries. The major impacts of sand and dust storms are listed below:

Environmental and Health Impacts

  • Poor air quality – This is due to increase in contaminant loads and dangerously high level of breathable suspended particles in the air during sand and dust storms.
  • Increase in environmental hazards relating to transportation, building and health.
  • Dust deposition on landscape can cause drying of leaves, retard the growth of plant and cause damage to crops.
  • Suspended dust particles in water can obstruct the penetration of sunlight into the sea floor and hence affect marine life cycle.

Social Impacts

  • Ill heath from inhalation of fine suspected dust particles and pollutants present in the dust
  • Road accidents and aviation hazards due to poor visibility
  • Delay in landing and take-off of air flights and restricted ship movement
  • Increase in stress associated with crop damage

Economic Impacts

  • Damage to physical structures such as buildings, roads, swimming pools etc. due to dust deposition
  • Costs associated with cleaning of infiltrated dust inside the house and building and cleaning of vehicles
  • Cost of removing sand from road and buildings
  • Costs associated with accidents, material loss, delay in flights, delay in movement of vehicles,
  • Costs associated with clearing of buried construction infrastructure such as oil pipelines due to sand and dust during the storms

Reducing the Effect of Sand and Dust Storms

The effects of sand and dust storms can be reduced by using a number of health & safety measures and environmental control strategies.  Large-scale sand and dust storms are generally natural phenomena and it may not be always practicable to prevent it happening. However, control measures can be taken to reduce its impacts. Localised small-scale dust emission due to human induced activities can be reduced by using temporary mechanical methods such as concrete barrier, mulching, tree buffer etc.  

  • Take appropriate control of dust raising factors such as increasing the vegetation cover where possible. It helps in stabilization of the soil, sand dunes and form windbreaks.
  • Use of native plants and trees as buffer can reduce wind velocity and sand drifts at the same increase the soil moisture
  • Design buildings appropriately and conduct air infiltration testing during building commissioning.

Some health and safety measures that should be taken to minimise the adverse impacts due to the dust storm are:

  • Take extra precautionary measures for vulnerable population group such as children, elderly and sick people.
  • Use dust masks – Dust masks have filters which can filter out small particles and contaminants. Hence, mask should be used during the dust storms. Put a wet towel or tissue on the nose and mouth and drink lots of fluid.
  • Clean your face, nose and mouth frequently to prevent any dust entering into lungs and inhale some water through your nose in order to clean the nose of dust particles.
  • Close the doors and windows tightly, pulling all curtains up and put wet towels on the small holes that may be round windows
  • Restricting outdoor activities and staying inside the house.

 

References

  • Speer MS (2013) Dust storm frequency and impact over Eastern Australia determined by state of Pacific climate system. Weather and Climate Extremes, Vol 2, page 16-21.
  • Shivakumar MVK (2005) Impact of sand storms/ dust storms on agriculture.  Natural Disasters and Extreme Events in Agriculture. Publisher – Springer eBook, page  159-177.
  • Mohammad, Mohammad-Shafi Abdullah (1989) Dust storm phenomena and their environmental impacts in Kuwait, PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Reuse and Recycling of Textbooks

textbooks-recyclingFor every academic term or semester, thousands of new textbooks are being printed, bought and used. On the other hand, almost the same number of textbooks and course material are being discarded after its use and find its way to the garbage bins ultimately landing at the landfill site where they are being buried, compacted and disposed occupying precious land area. Usually these textbooks are not being reused or recycled generating huge quantities of paper waste.

In many of the private schools, the textbooks have to be bought in every term due to change in edition or minor revisions putting an extra burden on parents to buy the new books that cannot be used for their other children in coming years. Due to rise in standard of living, it is not a common sight that the textbooks are being donated, exchanged, re-used or utilized by other family members. Such practices are yielding more generation of paper waste.

A Novel Initiative in Bahrain

The recent initiative taken by Bahrain’s Ministry of Education is laudable whereby the textbooks have to be returned by the students after completion of the academic year and will be reused for the incoming students. Reuse of textbooks will conserve resources, finances and will generate less paper waste besides educating the children to reuse and recycle and taking care of the environment.

Some private initiatives have also being launched to support needy students by providing free textbooks to them to be collected from students and parents. It is expected that around 1,000 of these book sets will be distributed to students, while those deemed unusable will be recycled as part of a dual program being operated by the organization in Bahrain.

In addition to books, poor students will also get free stationery including notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers and sharpeners. There is a greater need that text books are shared and re-utilized while establishing a culture of environmental responsibility. Though such practices are being done at individual level, it needs to be done at community and at school level.

Text book collection boxes are to be kept and maintained at school level by the school authorities or by the parent-teachers association or any NGO. In addition, students should be made responsible towards protecting the environmental resources.

The Way Forward

In almost all developed countries, there are book banks and libraries from where the text/ course books can be purchased both used and unused one and can be returned or resold after use. Many online shops are available which deliver the books at nominal cost. In addition, many charity, community and non-governmental organizations set up text books bins, booths and boxes for such purpose of books collection and re-utilization. In line with the Government initiative, all private schools and vocational institutions should also initiate the text book re-utilization and recycling programs.

textbooks-reuse

Reuse of textbooks will not only help in environmental conservation but also help in education of children in less-privileged countries.

The local charities and area committees can also include textbook collection/ donation program within their scope, which then needs to be publicized by the local media enabling students and their parents to generously donate these books for further re-use within the country or can be exported out to other poor neighboring countries where cost of books prohibit the children to go to school. Such habits and awareness of conserving environmental resources will go a long way in inculcating environmental related habits in our younger generation who will take charge of this planet in near future.

An Environmental Message

We need to understand that it takes around three tons of trees to make one ton of paper which also utilize huge quantity of water per ton than any other product in the world. Paper making also produces high levels of air and water pollution which can be avoided. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water. It takes one tree to make 25 books.

By recycling our books, we are giving that tree a new purpose and reducing deforestation. It is suggested that schools should hold semi-annual book sales to clear out old inventory. Special bins/ containers for these books are to be made and appropriately placed in schools. We need to clear our shelves, and get unused books back into circulation.

We need to understand that recycling is a responsibility of today for a better tomorrow.

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How Science Helped our Homes be Energy-Efficient

Technology is advancing every day and the need for more energy is also increasing. The linear progression of energy consumption is going to be bad for us all if not handled correctly, so energy efficiency has become a priority for every industry. The more advanced technology gets, the more energy sources are utilized. Homes nowadays use about double the energy homes in the 80s needed. Trying to conserve energy has been the sensible course of action; for the environment is mostly polluted by non-environmentally-friendly energy sources.

Conserving energy also means conserving money, it may be expensive to get all the environment-friendly system running at first, but it definitely saves a lot of money in the long run. Thanks to science, it is becoming a lot easier for people to make their homes run on efficient, cheaper and cleaner energy sources. We’ll be reviewing some of the best ways to make your home energy-efficient.

Smart Thermostat

When you’re switching from a common analog thermostat you may feel that a smart thermostat is just an overpriced thermostat. That is not really true, heating and cooling is responsible for about half the energy consumption in homes.

Smart thermostats sure cost more than ordinary ones, but they save you a lot of money. Some smart thermostats have the ability to remember the preferences of temperature and their time. Most of smart thermostats can be controlled remotely and work in sync with HVAC to control the temperature of your home from anywhere with internet access.

Magnetic Cooling

A technology based on the phenomenon of magnetocaloric—variance in temperature according to the magnetic field— was created by General Electric and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It was incorporated in refrigerators introducing water-based cooling fluid, which makes it more efficient and healthier in cooling while saving you energy and money.

Solar Panels

The solar panels used to be very expensive and out of reach for many homes, fortunately, nowadays getting the solar panels is much cheaper than it used to be 10 years ago. It is still expensive to set up and buy the panels, but if you can afford it, then you should definitely consider it.

 

The efficiency comes from the fact that you are producing your own energy/electricity instead of buying it from a provider. Solar energy is considered one of the cleanest sources of energy available, no pollution whatsoever to the environment.

Smarter Homes

A smart home means a house that you can control many of its elements through your electronic devices like phones and tablets. As long as the appliances in your home are connected to the internet it can provide you with live data so you could monitor it while you’re away. You can control lighting, temperature, air access, and humid with a few taps.

Final Thoughts

It may look like your home is a few steps away from becoming sentient, unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for science to reach that point yet. Science is taking strides in home and quality of life improvement every day. You should always research the newest utilities and systems according to the level of convenience, you’re looking for that may, of course, suit on your budget. Have an energy-efficient home!

الامن الغذائي في الشرق الاوسط

food-security-arabعلى الرغم من حقيقة ان منطقه الشرق الاوسط تنعم بميراث جغرافي غني بالنفط و الغاز والمعادن الا انها تعاني في الوقت نفسه من شح في المياه ومناطق قاحله تأخذ حيزا كبيرا من مشاكلها الديموغرافيه و الاجتماعية والاقتصاديه. فمن الصعب أن تنمو المحاصيل في منطقة الشرق الاوسط بسبب نقص المياه ومحدوديه الاراضي الصالحة للزراعه. و من الجدير بالذكر ان المنطقه  معرضه بشده للتقلبات في الاسواق الدوليه  وذلك بسبب اعتمادها الكبير على الحبوب المستورده و المواد الغذائيه.

وفقا لتقرير صدر عام 2009 من قبل البنك الدولي, ومنظمه الامم المتحدة للغذاء والزراعه (الفاو) و الصندوق الدولي للتنميه الغذائيه فأن  ” الدول العربيه من اكبر مستوردي الحبوب في العالم. معظم الاستيراد  اي على الاقل 50% من الغذاء تستهلك من قبلهم”.  في الماضي القريب اعتادت بلدان مثل مصر, سوريا او العراق ان تكون مخزن الحبوب وصومعته  ولكن قطاع الزراعه في تلك البلدان عانى بسبب سوء اداره الحكومات,وفرض الاسعار  وقله الاستثمارات. و في الحقيقة, فان كافة الدول العربيه تعد مستورد رئيسي للحبوب.

تواجه دول الشرق المتوسط ارتفاع الاسعار في اسواق الغذاء العالميه. ويعزى ذلك الى المنافسه  على المنتجات الغذائيه نفسها (الطحين, الذره, فول الصويا,البروتين الحيواني, الخ…) من مناطق اخرى في العالم وخاصه اسيا, حيث ترتفع مستويات الدخل ويزداد  الطلب على غذاء اكثر وافضل. وبالطبع فأن ارتفاع اسعار الغذاء ادى الى زياده عدد الفقراء المدقعين  ملايين في دول الشرق الاوسط الاقل ثراء.

و لجعل الامور اسوأ بشأن مشكلة  الامدادت الغذائية, فان الاسواق العالميه شهدت اضطرابات شديده في السنوات القليله الماضيه من عواصف , وفيضانات و جفاف من روسيا الى الارجنتين الى استراليا. هذه الظواهر الطبيعيه مزقت نسيج  اليات السوق العالميه التي ترتكز عليها  التجاره الدوليه للغذاء . حيث ان اسعار المواد الغذائيه الاساسيه اصبحت في مستويات خطيره تقترب او تتجاوز ذروتها عام 2008.

من كل دول الشرق المتوسط  التي  تعاني من ازمه الغذاء الحاليه  تعد اليمن الاسوا شكلا.  يقول تقرير برنامج الامم المتحده للغذاء العالمي ان سبعه ملايين يمني من اصل واحد وعشرين مليون هو ” جائع فعلا” , مما يجعل اليمن واحدا من الاحد عشر بلدا في العالم  الاكثر انعداما للامن الغذائي .

يجري ضخ المياه الجوفيه بما يتجاوز معدل التغذية, و اضحت المياه الجوفيه الاعمق تستنزف  ونتيجه لذلك  فان منسوب المياه الجوفيه يهبط بمعدل 2 متر سنويا, ومع هبوط منسوب المياه فان محصول الحبوب تقلص بنسبه  الثلث في الاربعين سنه الماضيه في حين واصل الطلب على الغذاء في الارتفاع. وكنتيجه لذلك , فان اليمن  تستورد ما يزيد عن 80 % من محاصيلها .

عدد قليل من المزارع في المملكه العربيه السعوديه لا تروى, حيث ان  معظمها يعتمد على الابار الجوفيه.  وتعتبر مياه البحر المحلاه المستخدمه  لسد احتياجات المدن السعوديه من المياه ذات كلفه عاليه لتستخدم في عمليه الري. وقد ادى انعدام الامن الغذائي  المتزايد في السعوديه الى شراء او استئجار اراضي في بلدانٍ مختلفة, بما فيها افقر البلدان واكثرها جوعا كاثيوبيا و السودان.

في حقيقة الامر فان السعوديه تخطط لانتاج الغذاء لها بالاعتماد على اراضي ومياه الدول الاخرى وذلك لمواجهه زياده الطلب على الغذاء مع ارتفاع الكثافة السكانيه لديها. لسوء الحظ  فان نقل الاراضي الزراعيه  من زراعة الكفاف الى تصدير المحاصيل ادى الى مزيدٍ من نقص الغذاء. و من خلال محاولتها لضمان امنها الغذائي من خلال سيطرتها  للعقود الزراعيه  فان الدول الغنيه بذلك تخلق نقص جديدا  في الغذاء في اجزاء اخرى في العالم.   

نظرا لانخفاض تدفق نهر الفرات و دجله , فان المحاصيل الزراعية السوريه و العراقيه تضررت بشده . ونظرا لعدم ضمان ماقد يحصل في المستقبل بشأن امدادت النهر من المياه فان المزارعين في كلا  البلدين بدءوا بحفر الابار و ضخ المياه للري.

ستكون الدول العربيه من اكبر المستورديين للغذاء , وبالتالي ينبغي عليها تحسيين موانئها  و اماكن التخزين و اداره مخاطر الاستيراد.

 لقد تراجع محصول سوريا من الحبوب بما نسبته الخمس منذ  ذروته في عام 2001 حيث بلغ 7 ملايين طن. و في العراق تراجع ايضا محصول الحبوب الربع منذ بلغ ذروته 4.5 مليون طن في عام 2002. الاردن و مع 6 ملايين نسمه  فانها في وضع لا تحسد عليه زراعيا فمنذ اربعين عاما او اكثر كانت تنتج 300,000 طن من الحبوب سنويا , اليوم فانها تنتج 60,000 طن مما يستوجب استيراد ما يزيد عن 90% من احتياجاتها للحبوب.

مع تزايد نسبة السكان وزياده الضغط على موارد المياه  , يتوجب  على الحكومات اتخاذ الاجراءات العاجله   لمنع ازمه الغذاء التي تلوح في الافق. فقد كشف تقرير حديث  للبنك الدولي قصور كبير في العديد من موانئ الدول العربيه  وطرق تخزينها للحبوب  مقارنة مع غيرها من مستوردي الحبوب مثل هولندا و كوريا الجنوبيه.

مرافق الموانئ , بطئ خدمة  الجمارك و عمليه النقل غير الفعاله من الميناء الى الصوامع كلها عوامل تسهم في تدهور الوضع الغذائي. ستكون الدول العربيه من اكبر المستورديين للغذاء , وبالتالي ينبغي عليها تحسيين موانئها  و اماكن التخزين و اداره مخاطر الاستيراد.

ترجمة

سلام عبدالكريم عبابنه

مهندسه مدنية في شركة المسار المتحده للمقاولاتمهتمه في مجال البيئه و الطاقة المتجدده

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mobile Agriculture in Egypt: Food for Thought

The phenomenal spread of smartphones and the fact that they are practically hand-sized computers, have opened way to the creation of countless ‘mobile applications’ or simply ‘apps’. The first apps that came to light were as expected, for social media and different entertainment channels. They were followed by ‘modern life’ apps in the areas of health, education, agriculture and many more. Almost every area imaginable in our life now has a mobile app that caters to it.

Mobile Agriculture in Africa

During the course of my work at Orange Egypt, I’ve seen a great amount of interest in mobile agriculture by every mobile operator in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The combined portfolio offered by the operators is so versatile, I doubt if there is even any room for improvement.

Taking the Orange group as an example; there are apps that send timed text messages about planting, fertilizers, weather forecasts and crop prices. There are other apps that help farmers conduct financial transactions safely and easily. In several countries, the group avails a hotline where callers can get ‘live’ expert advice and discussions.

Mobile Agriculture in Egypt

In Egypt, the mobile agriculture market is more challenging for several reasons mainly due to bureaucracy, national security considerations and culture. Nevertheless, Egypt is an excellent candidate for a sustainable m-Agri application that benefits a lot of people and does well to the overall farming sector.

The agricultural sector in Egypt accounts for 15% of GDP. It employs over 8 Million people or 32% of the total workforce. One third of the Egyptian people are related somehow to someone in the agricultural sector.

We are fortunate that Orange Labs has one of its head offices based in Cairo. When it comes to m-Agri, there is no shortage of ideas; Orange Labs have developed several mobile solutions; most notably:

  1. Agricultural Wallet: Enables users to keep track of their fertilizer and seed rations. It organizes and records transactions between farmers and government cooperative societies thus eliminating confusion, waste and possibility of corruption.
  2. Smart Agriculture Probes: A B2B application that measures water levels in canals and sends them to a central unit; all part of an efficient water management system

Both apps address a pressing need and offer a solution to persistent problems, potentially saving the government significant amounts of money and effort. Unfortunately, and in all frankness, they never went past the point of a working pilot. Governmental authorities were uncooperative, unwilling and even afraid to get involved; and so nothing happened ever since.

Then, there were the B2C applications

  1. Bashaier Developed by Knowledge Economy Foundation. It is a market platform where users – farmers and wholesale merchants – log in for spot prices. It also includes a hotline where callers get expert advice on farming issues.

Bashaier is a good idea, however it needs much work and expense to keep it updated and of value, and that’s probably the reason it’s currently dormant; however I invite to visit the Knowledge Foundation’s site or download the application from Google Play.

  1. RAMIS: Stands for “Rural Agricultural Management Information System”. Collaboration between UN’s FAO, Orange Egypt, AUC’s Research Institute for Sustainable Development and a local NGO specializing in farming.

The project idea was to send text messages to participating farmers guiding them throughout the planting season. A hotline to receive live calls was also contemplated but was not launched due to budgetary reasons. This was a free service, sponsored by the 3 main partners.

The project also required extensive ‘ground work’ to ensure it is well accepted and understood by the community.

I was heavily involved in RAMIS and based on the feedback we got, the participants appreciated the idea, found the information innovative and useful although we’re not sure if they would be willing to pay a recurrent subscription fee for it.

  1. Kenana Online Part of the ‘Social Development Portal’ and developed by the Egyptian Fund for Information Technology. Kenana is a free service that is full useful information about agriculture but so far it’s only a web service with plans to turn it to a mobile app soon.

There you have it, the top mobile agriculture application in Egypt.

The Ideal Project Plan

Having that said; I see that the most practical approach for a project that

  1. Employs technology, particularly mobile
  2. Creates sustainable improvement in the lives of people working in agriculture, and
  3. Capitalizes on Public Private Partnerships, should be along these lines.

A simple mobile app; USSD based, to fit all type mobiles. This app would be an advisory tool that disseminates specific, verified and timed information to subscribers.

Moreover, this application would be supported by a helpline, say a hotline where callers can get expert advice either instantly or within 48 hours, depending on the complexity of the question.

At the start, these text messages can be free of charge. The cost of the call would be nominal, until we get the needed buy in.

Another option for project funding is corporate sponsors, typically food processing companies interested in seeing a better crop. These companies will be willing to pay a little more for a win-win situation. Tomatoes, potatoes, jasmine and sugar beet are all crops that would fit this scenario perfectly.

A final and essential task, a key element of success, is field work. Similar to what was done in RAMIS. Egyptian farmers are not highly educated, so having someone reach out to them physically will make a great difference.

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