Do you want to meet the faces of CEOMED? Part 4: The University of Jordan


Dr. Ghada Kassab is an assistant professor at the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Jordan. In recent years, her research has been focused on bioenergy recovery from sewage sludge and food wastes, development of sustainable wastewater treatment technologies and sewage sludge management. During the past five years, Dr. Kassab has been a core investigator in research programs related to decentralized sanitation, agricultural wastewater use, sludge management and anaerobic co-digestion of food wastes with sewage sludge. Now, Dr. Kassab is implementing a pilot action in Amman in CEOMED project.

Dr. Kassab, you recently participated in a paper about the policy and governance framework for wastewater resource. In this paper, the problematic water management has been incremented by the growing population and climate change. Do you think that CEOMED could be a great response to this uncertain framework?

Jordan has been tackling sustainable management for its water resources since the late seventies and early eighties. Jordan is one of the leading countries in the region that established policies, regulations, and standards for water management and specifically for wastewater management and reuse. Jordan’s water resources policies explicitly consider wastewater and, naturally, the different types of solid wastes as a valuable resource. Regarding wastewater management and reuse, Jordan has reached satisfactory levels of sustainable and efficient management. Nevertheless, concerning solid waste management, the story is different. We still need to work on developing management strategies and frameworks that will lead to solid wastes sustainable management in the context of a circular economy. In recent years, CE has gained substantial momentum for its adoption in the planning and design of solid wastes management systems, focusing on waste to energy opportunities and organic wastes’ valorization. Here comes the anticipated valuable contribution of the CEOMED project, which one of its main objectives is the demonstration of the efficacy and feasibility of the anaerobic digestion process as a sustainable and cost-effective approach to managing different types of organic wastes, including the fresh fruits and vegetable wastes. The pilot demonstration of the anaerobic digestion of fresh fruits and vegetable wastes, which is one of CEOMED project main activities, shall offer an opportunity for decision-makers to see how effective and resourceful this process is for management of organic wastes. CEOMED project is a way for creating a successful story to demonstrate the value of employing anaerobic digestion. 

From the University of Jordan, the activities for CEOMED implies the construction of a pilot plant. How do you think that this construction could increase in the wellbeing of Amman citizens? And for Amman Municipality?

Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is continuously investigating and evaluating management approaches that would lead to the diversion of organic wastes from landfills and preservation of the valuable virgin resources, in addition to energy and nutrient recovery. Anaerobic digestion has been previously considered, but scepticism on efficiency, reliability, and stability was always there. Accordingly, I believe that the anticipated technical and economic results of this pilot demonstration can lead to shifting in the organic wastes management paradigm and the adoption of the anaerobic digestion system for the management of different types of organic wastes generated within GAM.

What differences are between the pilot plant deployed in Tunisia and Amman?

The demonstration in Sfax-Tunisia is directed into demonstrating full-scale application for organic wastes produced from fruits and vegetables wholesale markets. In addition to generating data that will contribute to the economic and life cycle analysis. In Amman, the pilot demonstration will focus on optimizing the anaerobic digestion process for the treatment of fruits and vegetable wastes. More specifically, Amman’s pilot demonstration will focus on generating critical technical information, such as the maximum endurable organic loading rates, biogas yield and the impact of different waste’s composition on the efficiency and stability of the process. Certainly, this information will be employed as well on conducting an economic analysis that aims at validating anaerobic digestion process as a sustainable and efficient approach for the management of different types of organic wastes.

In your expert opinion, as a woman researcher, how could the visibility of women in these scientific projects help in the social framework?

Before answering this question, I want to stress the fact that women in Jordan are effectively contributing to the field of wastes management, as engineers, coordinators, and even policymakers. Women are actively involved in the waste management sector, whether within the governmental, private, academic, or development areas.  We have excellent female engineers involved in the planning, design, and operation of different activities related to waste management. However, some socio-cultural barriers may still exist, and women may be affected differently in different cultures. So, having women establishing a career in higher education and waste engineering and management would help in changing the stereotypes on gender roles and open opportunities for other women to take more active roles in the academic sector and the waste management sector.