“Not a garbage dump”: New landfill in Gevgelija to meet highest environmental standards

Jan 31, 2018

The construction of a state-of the-art environmentally-friendly solution to waste management has been launched in the Municipality of Gevgelija.

Set for completion in August 2018, the new landfill will be the first in the country to meet all the EU’s high waste-management standards for ‘sanitary landfills’. These standards ensure that waste is securely isolated until it has degraded to a level safe for the environment and public health.

The sanitary landfill project meets an urgent need to replace a hazardous illegal landfill now overspilling by the River Vardar in Gevgelija – a problem greatly exacerbated by the transit of more than one million refugees and migrants through the municipality in 2015 and early 2016.

“This landfill problem has been many years in the making,” acknowledges the Mayor of Gevgelija, Saso Pockov, “but the migrant crisis brought it close to breaking-point. We are immensely grateful to the Government of Japan and UNDP for helping us to find a way forward.”

The construction of the sanitary landfill has been funded by the Government of Japan at the cost of USD 960,645 and is being implemented by UNDP.

UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton says that “the pioneering nature of this project has meant that we followed a long and winding road to get to the point where we can start construction,” including detailed studies, complex designs and multiple public consultations on the landfill location and its potential impact on the host community, as well as lengthy administrative procedures to obtain permits and approvals for the construction of the landfill. However, Vinton is certain that the completed facility will help convince the public that “a modern landfill is not the same as a garbage dump,” and thus encourage other communities to pursue similar projects.

The sanitary landfill project in Gevgelija is part of a larger project to find solutions for development challenges in the areas of waste management and water supply in the two municipalities most severely affected by the refugee crisis: Gevgelija in the south and Kumanovo in the north. 

Developed and implemented by UNDP with national and local partners, the Local Government Response to the Migration Crisis project has been generously funded by the Government of Japan in the amount of USD 2,225,000. The landfill is the last component of this project to be completed.

Some of the key achievements of the project include:

•             the purchase of new garbage trucks, bins and compacting equipment in Gevgelija and Kumanovo

•             the reconstruction of roads and Tabanovce and a schoolyard in Sopot in Kumanovo

•             the construction of flood-prevention infrastructure along the Lipkovska River in Kumanovo; and

•             the reconstruction of a pumping station for drinking water in Gevgelija

Japan Ambassador Keiko Haneda stated that throughout the refugee crisis, the Government of Japan provided EUR 4,7 million in all for the region– including major donations to improve conditions in local school and hospitals.

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