Soaring Birds & Waste Management: Al Ekaider Landfill is a Birder’s Heaven

October 18, 2018

White storks at Al Ekaider landfill

The Red Sea flyway is the second most important flyway for migratory soaring birds (MSB) in the world. Over 1.5 million birds of 37 species, including 5 globally threatened species, use this corridor between their breeding grounds in Europe and West Asia and wintering areas in Africa each year.

“It is substantial to mainstream migratory soaring bird considerations into the productive sectors along the flyway that pose the greatest risk to the safe migration of these birds – hunting, energy, agriculture, and waste management,” Osama Alnouri, Regional Flyway Facility (RFF) Coordinator of the Migratory Soaring Birds project said.

The white storks, and other kinds of soaring birds, use Al Ekaider landfill as a migration stop. “Migrating birds need places rich with resources,” Tareq Qaneer, Head of Birds' Projects Management Unit at The Royal Society for The Conservation of Nature (RSCN), noted.

Part of the adjacent agricultural land at Al Ekaider landfill

Al Ekaider landfill has become the first sanitary cell and the second largest landfill in Jordan in the Northern region, by complimenting the efforts undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), funded by the Government of Canada and in a collaboration with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Joint Services Council in Irbid.

Peter MacDougall, Canada’s Ambassador to Jordan praised the partnership with UNDP and the Jordanian Government by saying: “Canada was one of the countries that realized early the importance of following a different approach to deal with the challenges faced by Syrian refugees on hosting countries, and that is by building human capacity and infrastructure.”He also added that this project is critical for northern Jordan given the potential hazardous impacts it would have on the surrounding community if action had not been taken swiftly.  Canada is pleased to be taking the lead among donors to rehabilitate Al-Ekeider.

The UNDP has rehabilitated the old buildings at Al Ekaider and built new administration buildings, machinery workshops and facilities for waste pickers. Alongside this, they have provided the landfill with the necessary modern machinery, repaired internal roads and expanded the main entrance.

Furthermore, the UNDP is currently working on installing solar-powered lights on the sides of the internal roads of Al Ekaider landfill and building a green belt of trees around the landfill to enhance the environmental and health conditions of the surrounding area.

Sanitary cell at Al Ekaider landfill

The sanitary cell has a lining that prevents the leakage of toxic substances into the soil and nearby water resources, in addition the cell is dumped and covered by a layer of soil daily. These adjustments at Al Ekaider landfill, in addition to the area being a no-hunt zone, has created the perfect stopping point for the migratory soaring birds.

“In the future RSCN is looking forward to work with the management at Ekaider site to monitor birds at site and seek bird conservation at site from all potential risks,” Qaneer said.