NAWAMED project, green walls for reusing grey water: the practicality of applying it at different levels in Lebanon


With the aim of achieving NAWAMED strategic objectives in increasing the awareness of stakeholders’ perspectives on the use of non-conventional water (NCW) resources, the American University of Beirut (AUB), partner of the project under the supervision of Dr. Yaser Abunnasr, has conducted an online interview with an interesting stakeholder at the academic level that can be useful to foster the integration of NCW resources at the local level. 

Ms. Rana El-Hajj, is the program manager for “The climate change and environment” program at “Issam Fares Institute (IFI) for public policy and international affairs”, which is an independent, research-based, policy-oriented institute at the AUB, working with municipalities on environmental issues. It aims to initiate and develop policy-relevant research on climate change and environment and water related issues in the Arab world, which could also benefit the development of NAWAMED in Lebanon.

Probably the most difficult to apply would be at the domestic level at this stage. So, I think we can first encourage water reuse probably at the municipal level, at neighborhood or even national level, but if we are talking nature based, I’m not certain how practical it is, without clear proves

According to Ms. Rana, in particular the application of green wall for reusing grey water at the domestic level is very case specific, as it has a lot to do with availability of space and the kind of nature-based solution (NBS) used. 

Anyway, when you go into really the practicality of it, it is complicated a bit based on the status code that we are in now: I mean existing laws, institutional structures, etc. The framework is not there to make this easy to promote

The limitations of applying this kind of solutions at the domestic level is a combination between technical and policy aspects, such as building laws. She explains as at the general water management level the limitations are the know-how. 

Having decision makers, policy makers and planners to really become aware of the different options that they might have and taking those seriously into consideration, and not directly going to the infrastructural [engineered] solutions

Throughout the IFI projects with municipalities, she has explored if such water recycling ideas are applicable:

it’s really very difficult to discuss this option right now on municipal level, not because they applied something and it didn’t work, but due to the lack of interest, applicability, possibility of this as an option. Even though not everyone is completely against it, they are aware of many complications of it succeeds now

However, taking in account her limited experience in NBS for water recycling, but thanks to her discussions at the national level on related issues, she believes in the possibility of using NBS for the treatment of waste water. She also thinks that this is something not too far from what the Ministry of Energy and Water of Lebanon is thinking about: it will be useful to prove, through demonstrations, that they could actually work, which could be a good step towards using this approach and eventually leading to necessary policy changes for that. It will be also useful to foster the integration of the NCW resources at the local level.

First of all, it’s very helpful that you prove 1 or 2 options that are practical and applicable to Lebanon, to the urban conditions that we have, and everything that makes it realistic, instead of giving any generic recommendations of the use of this approach in general

In conclusion, she believes NCW recycling should be encouraged in Lebanon with practical research-based demonstrations that might eventually lead to policy changes in the future. According with this conclusion, NAWAMED project will be showcasing 3 prototype examples to demonstrate the efficacy of NCW in Lebanon.