When properly designed and managed, waste disposal sites and treatment facilities offer considerable ecological services that often go hand in hand with the obvious social, health and economic benefits. Indeed, waste water and solid waste disposal and treatment sites can provide important and safe habitats, notably resting and feeding sites for migrating and resident birds. Although efforts have been made to address the waste disposal issue in some countries, it is often only the aesthetic aspect of the problem that is addressed, while other impacts such as the public health and ecological impacts are ignored.
When properly designed and managed, waste disposal sites and treatment facilities offer considerable ecological services
What do we do?
The MSB project aims to integrate consideration of soaring birds into the waste management sector in the region while supporting proper management that will ensure public health, social, economic and ecological benefits.
MSB project partners are actively working in their respective countries for the establishment of strategic partnerships with major actors of the waste management sector. If you are involved in the waste management sector in any of the 11 countries in the region and would like to learn more about how the project might be of interest to you please contact us or any of our partners.
The Regional Flyway Facility (RFF) supports the work of MSB project partners by providing technical support, building capacity, raising awareness at a regional level and facilitating coordination and lesson learned exchange. For that purpose, RFF is working towards the development of guidance materials and tools to enhance the integration of migratory soaring bird conservation and ecological services into proper waste management. If you would like to have more information on that please contact us.
Waste Management in the Rift Valley / Red Sea Flyway
A combination of economic and population growth increases the amount of waste that is generated. Waste management is becoming a major problem along the flyway as human populations rise and industrialisation increases. Waste management is generally poor, with solid waste thrown into open pits, burned, or dumped into rivers and lakes, and waste water and effluents usually discharged directly into rivers without prior treatment. Municipal rubbish tips are usually poorly managed with large amounts of exposed waste, and toxic materials are often present.
Waste management is becoming a major problem along the flyway as human populations rise and industrialisation increases
Impacts on Birds
Lack of proper waste management practices has implications for human health and health care, environmental quality, water resources, fisheries, agriculture, tourism and trade. In some cases, poorly managed waste has implications for the aesthetic value of the landscape when it becomes an eyesore. However, poorly managed waste can also ruin unique habitats for flora and fauna, especially if it is not well located. Open land-fill sites and wastewater treatment plants attract, injure, and kill MSBs. Waste sites are generally poorly managed and large amounts of exposed waste attract scavenging birds including soaring raptors. Visiting birds can ingest toxic substances and frequently become entangled in plastic, wire, and other debris, or are injured by metal scrap or fire. Large numbers of MSBs often also die at poorly managed wastewater treatment facilities (domestic and industrial) due to drowning, entrapment in sludge (due to inappropriate pond designs) or die or become sick from drinking contaminated water. Waste sites pose particular threats in desert environments where they represent an obvious and attractive source of food and water to MSBs.
Photo By Marcus Kohler, © BirdLife-images
Waste sites are generally poorly managed and large amounts of exposed waste attract scavenging birds including soaring raptors
In one of the countries on the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway, a study at one land-fill near a bottleneck site showed that the land-fill contained 546,000m³ of solid waste, increasing at a rate of 1.2%/year. Samples taken from the site showed a high concentration of heavy metals – lead, cadmium, mercury, zinc, and chromium – along with hydrocarbons, pesticides, dyestuffs, and radioactive substances. Many MSBs (and other wild animals, e.g. baboons) feed at the site and frequent deaths of MSBs have been reported by local people. Accidental poisoning of raptors at open rubbish tips from poison baits set to control scavenging foxes, jackals and feral dogs is a related problem in some areas of the Middle East. Such baits are the cheapest way to control predators at waste sites and risks to other animals are not recognised by, or are unimportant to, site managers. This could have huge adverse impacts on large populations of soaring birds that are using the flyway during their annual migration season. This is very critical, especially if the development is located along a migratory flyway and when huge concentrations of birds are involved (e.g. at bottlenecks).
Waste Management and the Conservation of Migratory Soaring Birds
Waste Management: Best Practices to Conserve Migrating Soaring Birds (MSBs) in the Rift Valley / Red Sea Flyway