As well as hosting Palestine’s first environmental festival this year and assisting the construction of the country’s first green city named ‘Rawabi’, Ramallah has aspirations to be an environmentally friendly city of its own.
The municipality of Ramallah recently released a mission statement which says: “We want the city of Ramallah to be beautiful, green, safe, clean, and environmentally friendly for the sake of all its residents.” As part of the efforts to improve the city, the municipality states that more greenery will be planted, an awareness-raising campaign focused on schools will be launched and a clean-up programme initiated.
Improving Green Spaces
According to the Ramallah municipality, over the last three years they have planted nearly 14,000 trees and they want to expand this by building more parks. There are currently plans to develop an open-air theatre garden for concerts and plays called the ‘Garden of Nations’, a children’s playground, the Mahmoud Darwish Garden to mark the site where the world famous poet is buried as well a 3.5 acre Al Jahir Garden and the Yousef Qaddura Park.
Laws protecting greenery and green spaces will also be revived, says the municipality. One such law states that landowners in Ramallah must use 10% of their land to plant greenery and another prevents residents from cutting down trees without appropriate permission. Understandably, the issue of having enough staff to carry out these job arose and the municipality admitted that more workers are needed to handle the increasing demands of the city’s efforts to be environmentally conscious.
Cleaning The City and Greening The Education
Clean-up activities planned for the city include expanding the sewage networks and improving the solid waste collection. A 10.6 million Euros project to build a regional garbage dumping site for the Ramallah and Al-Bireh governates is due to be completed in 2014, and cleaning and garbage crews already work seven days a week.
Educational programmes by the municipality are focusing on Ramallah’s school children through curricula activities, an environment summer camp and an eco play competition. Some of the student projects have included converting organic solid waste into compost, creating a drip-irrigation system for trees in order to conserve water and organising cleaning campaigns in the schools and neighbourhoods.
One area that seemed to be missing from Ramallah’s plans is the use of renewable energy. Yet just this summer, Ramallah hosted the Ramallah TEDx talks which featured Khaled Sabawi of MENA Geothermal which promotes the importance of geothermal energy. Even so, the city’s plans to improve its green credentials are pretty ambitious and only time will tell whether the municipality manage to carry out their programmes and turn Ramallah into an environmentally friendly city.
: Image via gregorschlatte/flickr
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