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<Integrated Waste Management Practices To Protect Freshwater Resources:
Case Studies From West Asia,
The Mediterranean, And The Arab Region>

The Report of The Sultanate of Oman on solid Waste Management

Prepared by:
Mahad bin Eissa Shammas, Director of the directorate of environmental affairs.
The General Directorate for Environment in the governorate of Dhafar
- Ministry of Local Municipalities and Environment.

 

  1. Summary

    The Sultanate of Oman has witnessed a steady development and a rapid population growth in the last twenty years. This was accompanied by a change in the life style of citizens, which had its effect on the traditional systems of managing solid waste. The current system for waste management has become insufficient and with adverse impact on the environment.

    The Sultanate is now entering a phase of change in the industrial growth and economic diversity by introducing sources of revenues other than oil. This change led to a change in the size and type of generated waste as well as the possible health and environmental impacts. This has pushed the sultanate to conduct various studies and develop plans to match this development.

    The Omani government realized the fact that health and human environment are interconnected elements, and the increase in the public awareness led Omani citizens to realize this fact.

    The Sultanate of Oman is totally aware of the reality and the problems related to managing the waste and their environmental effects. Nowadays, there are problems in Oman with regards to the insufficient facilities related to managing the waste. However, the early preparations and the intensive studies carried out by the sultanate have laid the full basis for the proper management of wastes.

    The Omani government will continue to assure- within its continuous policies- that the health, the welfare of the citizens and the protection of the environment will have full attention. This can be achieved through the realization and identification of the problems and the requirements in this fast changing world.

  2. The Report

    First of all, we have to point out the fact that the growth, development and urbanization that Oman has witnessed started in 1970. Prior to that year, Oman did not witness any development. Since 1970, Oman started the construction process and it is still following the path of development and growth. The infrastructure was established in most parts of the Oman, particularly the one related to the health and environment.

    Along with this, the sultani decree 10/82 was issued and became known as the law of environment protection and pollution abatement. This law represented the basic regulations for the protection of the environment in the lands of the sultanate and the Omani waters.

    The first item of the law stipulates the following:

    - This law asserts the necessity of providing the most possible health care for the country and its citizens and preserving the country's natural wealth, economic resources and historical and cultural heritage, thus, avoiding any harm or side effects that might evolve immediately or on the long run as a result of the programs of industrial, agricultural or constructional development or any other developmental programs that aim at improving the living conditions and diversifying the sources of national income.

    - This law aims at protecting the natural resources of this country, developing and utilizing it soundly without causing any harmful impacts on the living species in the sultanate or in its waters; particularly in terms of the dangers resulting from the pollution of the main elements of the environment.

    The law was enhanced by various ministerial decrees issued by the minister of local municipalities and environment, which put forward the mechanism for its implementation. Environmental as well as other elements related to the law of the protection of the environment and pollution control are being discussed and studied by a ministerial committee that was formed by the ministry of local municipalities and environment.

    This committee includes representatives at the decision-makers level from different ministries and institutions that are related one way or another to environmental matter such as:

    • Ministry of Health.
    • Ministry of Water Resources.
    • Ministry of Agriculture and fisheries.
    • Muscat Municipality.
    • University of Sultan Qaboos.

    Oman is the third largest country in the Arab peninsula in terms of its area. It has an area of 309500 squared kilometers. Its coasts stretch to 1700 kilometers, and its population in the year 1998 reached 2,780,000. Most of the lands of the sultanate are flat except for series of mountains in northern and southern areas. The highest top of those mountains is 3009 meters high, whereas in the south, the highest top is 1812 meters. The sultanate is considered a dry area in which citizens practice agriculture, commerce and fishing. In the last years, Omani worked in factories.

    The health policies in Oman stress that health and environment are interrelated elements, with which several official institutions are concerned. The policies also indicate some other factors such as agriculture, education, housing, social affairs, water, religious affairs, commerce and industry are tributes to the health of citizens.

    The ministry of local municipalities and environment executes the environmental legislations and regulations and the monitoring through the environmental affairs departments responsible for inspection and monitoring. Furthermore, the ministry has fulfilled the national strategy for the protection of the environment, in which environment and health were the main elements. Among the legislations and regulations issued by the ministry are concerning the following:

    • recirculating treated waste waters.
    • managing dangerous waste.
    • managing municipal solid waste.
    • storage and analysis reservoirs.
    • Emissions to the maritime environment.
    • radioactive waste.
    • air emissions.
    • Using chemical products.

    The ministry took the responsibility of reviewing and updating those regulations every five years.

    The environment protection law included a compulsory item that requires all developmental projects to attain an environmental permit from the ministry. The application for the permit should be submitted together with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report or a filled form indicating the environmental impact, according to the nature of the project.

    The environmental permit is issued in stages, starting by an initial environmental permit valid for six months. This permit includes the environmental constraints and conditions that have to be met when starting a project. After the completion of the project to determine whether a final inspection is undertaken and that constraints and conditions set by the ministerial decrees were met, then a final permit is issued that is valid for five years. In certain cases, the approval can be valid for one year depending on the level of commitment to the rules set by the ministry. In case of violation for the rules, the whole project is deemed illegal and hence, measures should be taken to correct the situation and other legal procedures would be taken.

    In addition to the departments of environmental affairs within ministry's units in different locations, there is the General Directorate for Health Affairs. Despite the fact that there is a common ground for its work with the departments of environmental affairs, the focus of this directorate is on protecting the health of citizens from the possible impacts of the various activities. This includes the effects resulting from waste collection and disposal, especially organic waste and the waste generated in markets and public places.

    The General Directorate for Environmental affairs as well as the General Directorate for Health Affairs use their own laboratories for monitoring sources of pollution.

    In the management administration of the ministry of local municipalities and environment, there is the department for Public Relation and Awareness, which works side by side with all the concerned parties within the ministry or outside. Its aim is to spread environmental awareness among citizens and conducting various awareness campaigns including printed materials or audio visual programs for schools, universities, clubs,... etc.

    The increase in the population density as a result of the continuous urban expansion together with the improvement of living standards have increased the amount of generated solid waste all over the sultanate. Various procedures were taken to build the basic facilities for the solid waste disposal, but those steps could not match the speed of development the world has witnessed in this field. Therefore, developing the system of management and disposal of solid waste is one of the main concerns of the concerned parties in Oman, given the environmental importance of this subject.

    The sultanate of Oman is divided into eight areas, each composing of states, with a total number of 59. Each state handles the responsibility of collecting and disposing its waste and providing the suitable places for dumping the waste. There can be one dumpsite for more than one state, depending on the topographic nature of the area.

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