The Italian waste import scandal, in spite of the iterative creeds of the peninsula authorities, does not seem to be on a path that safeguards Tunisia’s interests, and even if a hearing in the Italian court is scheduled this week to rule on the case, as the incumbent minister for local affairs does and Environment Camel Doukh specified.
In a statement to Africanmanager ar, he called on the Italian state to take responsibility for this case by collecting and returning the contaminated waste and announced the decision to send a high-level diplomatic delegation to find a solution to the case .
When asked on the assumption that the Italian side would refuse to dispose of the waste, the minister limited himself to mentioning a “plan B” which he carefully did not divulge, but instead emphasized the existence of a study by the ministry which examined all sorts of things developed scenarios.
However, Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi said in a statement to TAP that the case was moving towards resolution and stated that there was consensus between the Tunisian and Italian authorities to find a final outcome on the matter.
“The Italian waste case was one of the topics raised in today’s talks [Wednesday] by the President of the Republic, Kais Saied, with his Italian counterpart and with Prime Minister Mario Draghi, ”said Jerandi after these meetings, which are part of the head of state’s two-day official visit to Rome.
“This case is currently in the hands of the Italian judiciary, which has to decide,” he added.
A “catastrophic drama”
The fact is, however, that the scandal surrounding the illegal import of waste from Italy has not ceased to take the form of catastrophic drama for over a year after the first containers arrived in Sousse in May 2020. It underlines the seriousness of the environmental problem in Tunisia, punctuated by “the most emblematic disasters”, the effects of which have persisted for years, such as the saturation of the largest landfill in all of Tunisia (Borj Chakir) and the destruction of ecosystems by industrial activities in the Gulf and South Africa the oasis of Gabes, Gafsa and the Gulf of Monastir.
In addition to these ecological catastrophes, the treatment of which is mostly postponed to the Greek calendar, there are also others that affect islands such as Kerkennah. The archipelago suffers from plastic waste and anarchic fishing.
Wetlands of international importance are under serious threat, including the famous Ichkeul Lake in Bizerte (a treasure trove of biodiversity and a popular destination for migratory birds). They are currently exposed to all risks, according to the scientific coordinator of the Association of Bird Friends (AAO), Hichem Azefzef.
Development aid without development!
Still, the environment is one of the sectors of choice that have benefited from development aid. According to the NGO “Jamaity”, around 30 international donors provide help and support for environmental projects and related activities in Tunisia.
The question arises, however, of the efficiency of these projects and of the aid given and announced by donors with great pomp, the actual contribution of which to improving the situation on the ground remains little measurable, especially since the state itself and its institutions are often the first to be responsible for the greatest environmental disasters in Tunisia.
The FTDES names the ONAS, the CPG and the CGT among the biggest polluters in Tunisia and denounces the violations of the latter two against the environment in the Gafsa mining basin (overuse of the water table and soil pollution).
Above all, the decade-long bias of the state in favor of industrialists and the lack of political will to punish environmentally harmful companies are denounced. As evidence, the state grants permits and is suspected of collaborating with investors using harmful products such as coke (carbon residue) used by cement factories, according to the examples cited by the FTDES forum.
Given this situation, and given the inability of state institutions devoted to environmental protection to fulfill their role, in particular due to governance issues undermining the National Waste Management Agency (ANGED), particularly noted in the report of the Court of Auditors in the In 2018, citizens alone will face those who violate their rights, only with the support of civil society
Repetition of the error!
Most of the projects launched every year, whether at national level or within the framework of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, usually repeat the same steps.
The famous “capacity building” component is a component that is never missing in the partnership projects between Tunisia and other countries, but has never led to any measurable change, particularly in the environmental sector and especially in waste management.
“We have been repeating the same thing for years and expecting a different result,” criticizes environmental activist Wissem Hamdi, who reacted to the latest initiative within the framework of the Tunisian-German partnership on May 20, 2021.
This is the “ProtecT” project (climate protection through the circular economy in Tunisia), which was started in front of a full room in a luxury hotel in the northern suburbs of Tunis.
In order to develop this concept of circular economy, a contract for the implementation of the project worth 5 million euros was signed, at a time when the country has not prescribed sorting at source and proper treatment of waste for years. essential prerequisites for the transition to circularity.