Beirut Troubled with Piles of Garbage

April 24, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. landfill / ˈlændˌfɪl / (n.) – a lower area of land where garbage is dumped and covered with a layer of soil
Example: Proper management of landfills is necessary to keep a community clean.

2. at hand / ət ˈhænd / (idiom) – currently available or immediately within reach
Example: The government still had no solutions at hand for the water shortage problem.

3. makeshift / ˈmeɪkˌʃɪft / (adj.) – referring to a temporary and usually improvised replacement for something
Example: The homeless man built a makeshift bed out of cardboards.

4. putrid / ˈpyu trɪd / (adj.) – rotting or decaying, usually describing smell
Example: The undisposed garbage gave off a putrid smell.

5. mar / mɑr / (v.) – to ruin or damage something good
Example: The concert has been marred by unforeseen troubles.


Read the text below.
Beirut has been facing a long-standing garbage crisis since its main landfill was closed in July 2011 without a proposed alternative at hand.

Enormous piles of garbage have accumulated in various areas in the city, with one in Jdeideh’s suburbs resembling a river of trash that is hundreds of meters long. The garbage crisis began when Beirut’s Naameh landfill was closed despite the unavailability of an alternative dumpsite.

The Naameh landfill began its operations in 1998 and was originally meant to be closed in 2004. The landfill can hold around two million tons of trash. However, it had already accumulated more than 15 million tons by 2011 after consecutive rulers kept moving the date of its closure.

The lack of an efficient solution from the government compelled residents to dump their trash in makeshift dumpsites or along roadsides and riverbanks. The putrid stench and health hazards of the garbage piles drove locals into anti-government protests, some of which have been marred by violence.

The Lebanese government failed to address the garbage problem and many other national crises because of internal conflicts among members of the Parliament. The Lebanese government divides its political powers equally among the prominent religious communities in the country, which include Christians and Muslims. Conflicts have also left lawmakers unable to appoint a president since May 2014.

On March 12, the Lebanese Cabinet proposed temporary solutions that would be enacted for four years while the government seeks for a more permanent answer. Solutions proposed include the temporary reopening of old dumpsites, including the Naameh landfill, and the creation of new landfills with incinerators.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were a resident of Beirut, what would you do with your trash?
·         If you were part of the local government, how would you prevent something like this from happening?

Discussion B

·         Should the government take sole responsibility for this crisis? Why or why not?
·         What can government officials do to avoid conflict among themselves? Discuss.

April 24, 2016