The Celebration of Earth Day Across the Arab World
By: Meral Abu-Jaser /Arab America Contributing Writer
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world to honor the planet and ignite an appreciation for the environment. This special day is always celebrated on April 22, which marked our calendar last Thursday. On this day, millions of people in different countries, including Arab regions, celebrate and highlight their support for the environment. Arab countries, such as Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, the UAE, Yemen, and Kuwait showcase their love and support for mother nature. Even though each country had its own theme of celebration, a connection was established among all Arab countries for the same cause. Some countries, like Jordan, celebrated virtually this year because of the pandemic. Other countries chose to celebrate safely the traditional way on the farm. Let’s take a look at their campaigns and what they hope to gain from their work on Earth Day.
Jordan: Climate Action
Jordan is among the countries that celebrate Earth Day under the theme “climate action.”. Yet, unfortunately, with the coronavirus hitting its highest picks in the number of people affected, Jordan was not able to celebrate earth day as it would normally. Even last year on April 22, 2020, it was marked as Earth Day’s 50th year and instead of having the celebration in person, it was done virtually as most events are these days. However, according to Jordan times, a normal celebration would include outdoor activities, street performances, and environmental programs. Therefore, with the event being virtual it focused mostly on discussions. Discussions about awareness of environmental issues, support of agricultural development and food security, water efficiency, and health systems were highlighted.
Palestine: Anera Agricultural Projects
With all the challenges in Palestine due to the illegal occupation, Earth Day will always be a day of peace and commitment to our beloved Earth. Therefore, on April 22, Anera announced agricultural projects that would help Palestinians have a healthy recourse of water. The mission is to have water that is enough for drinking, as well as farming, without having to worry if there is enough water for another day. With this plan, Palestine will ultimately flourish and water might stop being an issue to fret about in the future.
According to Anera, the Aquifier basin in Gaza city is on the list of projects that is worked on to supply clean water recourses. Gaza municipal reports show only 10% of rainwater now infiltrates into the aquifer. This is because of the poor permeability of the soil layers that are in the basin. The rest of the rainwater, about 90%, ends up being pumped into the sea in order to prevent the basin from overflowing and flooding the populated area around it.
Anera’s project is to significantly increase the Aquifier basin capacity to deliver water into the aquifer. Hence, dirt and debris that have accumulated and clogged the basin will be removed. The current top layer of dirt will be replaced with a new, clean layer of sand and 35 new boreholes will be constructed to feed the aquifer with filtered rainwater. Thus, as a result, 64,986 gallons a day to the aquifer during the rainy season will be added.
Join us as we travel to the West Bank of Palestine to learn how Earth Day is celebrated there. With Earth day being weeks apart from spring, the West Bank is the perfect place to celebrate. It’s a place to go when you want to celebrate spring and enjoy the sunshine. It’s where planting crops and greenery to honor and support the planet while igniting an appreciation for the environment probably all started. This year, Anera joins the celebration by teaching home gardening and composting to families. According to Anera, some of the families don’t have much more than the ground beneath their feet and the air around them. Therefore, planting tools were provided to the people of the West Bank in hopes for them to gain more independence while growing their own sources of food.
Lebanon: Cleansing the Land From Waste
With all that is currently going on, from the coronavirus crisis to the attempt of rebuilding the country after last year’s explosion, Lebanon is also facing a waste problem. Therefore, on Earth Day, with the help of Anera, Lebanon is in the process of solving the issue of waste. For a long time, Lebanon has been fighting the problem of trash. But with last year’s explosion things have gotten worse. According to GMI, Lebanon produces over two million tons of solid waste each year. Seventy-seven percent of it is openly dumped, landfilled, or burned.
Hence, on Earth Day, Anera’s community went on an adventure of knocking on neighbors’ doors, spreading the word about the importance and benefits of recycling, handing out bins and fliers, and holding community awareness. As a result of this exercise, 246 metric tons of waste has been reduced. Moreover, Anera worked with nine cities on Earth Day where 210,000 refugee individuals benefited. With this ongoing effort, Lebanon will hopefully regain its beautiful scenery in no time.
The UAE: Restore Our Earth
The UAE celebration of Earth Day has always aimed to help the environment as well as the communities in their country. Earth Day was themed as “Restore Our Earth” in this country. In fact, a new mission to go carbon-neutral was pledged by multiple companies in the UAE on Earth Day. This would open job opportunities under the name of renewable energy. According to the Gulf news, if this project continues to progress, by 2050 42 million job positions will be available. This is about four times higher than the current level. Moreover, the UAE has set a mission to reduce carbon emissions.
Yemen: Working On the Farm
As many Arab countries celebrate Earth day by enhancing the environment, Yemen celebrates Earth Day by working on the farm. Earth Day is the day to harvest the crops and to take care of plants and trees in private and public farm sectors. This is done in the hopes of spreading awareness among the Yemeni community. This activity starts on the evening of April 21, not on April 22. There is no indication as to why farmers harvest on the day before Earth Day. Maybe it’s due to cooler weather the evening before, and farmers want a clean start on Earth Day? If you know the answer, let us know in the comments section.
Kuwait: Restore Our Earth
Kuwait is another Arab country celebrating national Earth Day. A theme that is similar to the UAE, Kuwait celebrated this peaceful day under the title “Restore Our Earth.” Like other countries, the purpose is to support and spread awareness and methods on protecting the environment. According to MENAFN, Boursa, Kuwait participated in this year’s festivities to raise awareness of its corporate sustainability strategy aimed to create long-term value for the company’s stakeholders in the economic, social, and environmental dimensions.
Kuwait also committed to minimizing its carbon footprint by continually improving environmental management practices, reducing the consumption of energy and other resources. Once this project reaches the success point as it did in 2020, energy consumption will reduce by over one million kilowatts and water consumption by around 85 thousand gallons. With the effort of achieving a sustainable economy in action, Kuwait will be able to sustain a more safe and healthy environment.
Earth Day Concluded
I hope you enjoyed learning how some Arab countries contribute to the environment on Earth Day. Now let us have our fingers crossed as each country progresses in its mission to improve and enhance the environment. Once each project succeeds, a better future for the new Arab generation is set. Remember, you do not need to wait for Earth Day to support the environment. Let us start afresh and contribute daily to honor the planet in hopes for a brighter tomorrow.
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