Photos by Oscar Vinck, Niek Tijsse Klase, and Ines Glowania
The Isolated System of Junk in the Gaza Strip
Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip affects every aspect of the country’s consumption. While products can still get in, garbage can’t get out, creating an isolated system of junk. Residents face limited hours of electricity each day, a shortage of gas to run collection vehicles and limited materials for creating alternative solutions to waste management. The 365-kilometre enclave is filling up with waste. The three existing landfills in Gaza are, or will soon be, completely unusable. Half of the junk already ends up in unofficial dumps, and insufficient waste treatment facilities also compromises the drinking water supply through pollution.
Ines Glowania surveys Gaza’s trash problem from the top-down and the bottom up, presenting an overview of the waste system and a series of interviews with local residents. This seemingly simple act of “taking the trash out” becomes a trigger for revealing the realities of living in Gaza. When it comes to junk, Gaza is a closed system, but so is our planet. Gaza can be read as a parable for global waste mismanagement and the consequences of unregulated consumption.
Interviews by Tareq AL Hendi
A. Majid Nassar and Luay Qrenawi, Assessment of Solid Waste Dumpsites in Gaza Strip (Environment Quality Authority, March 2007). Link
Ahmed Fahmi Abdalqader, “Landfills Needs Assesment in Gaza Strip and Sites Selection Using GIS” (PhD diss., Islamic University of Gaza, 2010). Link
Entsar Abu Jahal, “Can Gaza get a handle on its waste problem?” Al-Monitor, February 14, 2019. Link
Erika Weinthal and Jeannie Sowers, “Targeting infrastructure and livelihoods in the West Bank and Gaza,” International Affairs 95, no. 2 (March 2019): 319–340. Link
George R. Mitchell, “Gaza—uninhabitable by 2020?” The Press and Journal, March 18, 2018. Link
Jeannie L. Sowers, Erika Weinthal, and Neda Zawahri, “Targeting environmental infrastructures, international law, and civilians in the new Middle Eastern wars,” Security Dialogue 48, no. 5 (2017). Link
Salman Zafar, “Waste Management in Gaza Strip,” EcoMENA, April 12, 2019. Link
Status of the Environment in the State of Palestine 2015, eds. Jad Isaac and Khaldoun Rishmawi (Jerusalem: Applied Research Institute, 2015). Link
United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory, Gaza Ten Years Later, July 2017. Link
United Nations Environment Programme, Environmental Assessment of the Areas Disengaged by Israel in the Gaza Strip, 2006. Link
“‘Well-being of two million’ in Gaza at stake as emergency fuel runs dry: UN humanitarian coordinator,” UN News, August 8, 2018. Link
Zafrir Rinat, “Gaza Ranks High on World’s Garbage Map,” Haaretz, September 16, 2015. Link
Ines Glowania is a research-based designer from Germany with a master degree in Information Design. In her work she combines methods of journalism and performance with design. Her projects reflect on how the (cultural, political, economical) systems we are living in, influence the way humans act in the world.