Yemen govt urges UN envoy to work on new road map

Updated 12 November 2016

Yemen govt urges UN envoy to work on new road map

JEDDAH: The Yemeni government announced on Friday that it can accept the UN envoy’s peace plan only if it takes into consideration three key issues: The UN Security Council Resolution 2216; the GCC initiative and the outcome of the Yemeni national dialogue.
Abdulmalek Al-Mekhlafi, Yemeni deputy prime minister and foreign minister, stressed the need for UN envoy Ismail Oul Cheikh Ahmed to work on developing a new road map that takes into account the terms of reference and other points agreed upon during previous negotiations in Switzerland and Kuwait.
“This is essential for Yemen to enjoy real and sustainable peace,” he said.
During his talks with Vladimir Didoshkin, Russian ambassador to Yemen, and Katsuhiko Hayashi, Japan’s ambassador to Yemen, the minister confirmed the legitimate government’s rejection of the UN envoy’s road map, which is not based on the agreed upon outcomes of the Gulf initiative, the National Dialogue Conference and the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
The Yemeni government’s official media said the foreign minister discussed bilateral relations and the latest developments in Yemen with the ambassadors. The talks also focused on the road map, which was rejected by the Yemeni government.
The minister praised the support of the two countries for Yemen and its legitimate government.
He thanked the Japanese government for granting Yemen 470 million yen ($6.5 million) in food aid through the World Food Program.
The Russian ambassador said his government has approved the provision of urgent aid worth $3 million to Yemen.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed faced yet another failure last week when Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and other Yemeni officials rejected a meeting with him in Riyadh.
The UN envoy left Riyadh for New York after spending three days in Riyadh, during which he met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the ambassadors of 18 countries that sponsor the political process in Yemen.
This coincided with the continuation of military operations in several fronts in Yemen, most notably in Nahm, northeast of Sanaa, where heavy combat took place Thursday as the national army and popular resistance moved toward Yam and Al-Sawdaa’ Mountains after destroying militia positions.
Coalition aircraft, meanwhile, continued their raids on several militia military bases in Mount Al-Taweel and Bani Hasheesh west of Nahm. They also bombed forces loyal to ousted president Saleh in Wadi Jardan south of Sanaa.
Al-Thawra General Hospital, the largest hospital in Taiz, announced the suspension of many of its outpatient, radiology, and laboratory services due to a lack of financial support for the hospital.
The hospital was now attending only to emergency cases, said its director Ahmed Anaam.
He appealed to concerned officials and international humanitarian organizations to intervene and address the deteriorating health situation in Taiz, resulting from ongoing violations by Houthi militias.
Abdullah Dahan, Yemeni deputy minister of health and housing, said the hospital has been bombed repeatedly, while a blockade by militias of Taiz has prevented the entry of logistical materials.

Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

Updated 24 August 2019

Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

  • Egyptian social startups are taking alternative approaches to fostering awareness and reducing waste

CAIRO: Global plastics production reached 348 million tons in 2017, rising from 335 million tons in 2016, according to Plastics Europe. 

Critically, most plastic waste is not properly managed: Around 55 percent of it was landfilled or discarded in 2015. These numbers are extremely concerning because plastic products take anything from 450 to 1,000 years to decompose, and the effects on the environment, especially on marine and human life, are catastrophic.

While initiatives around the world are taking action to combat this problem, some Egyptian projects are doing it more creatively.

“We’re the first website in the Middle East and North Africa that trades waste,” said Alaa Afifi, founder and CEO of Bekia. “People can get rid of any waste at their disposal — plastic, paper and cooking oil — and exchange it for over 65 products on our website.”

Products for trading include rice, tea, pasta, cooking oil, subway tickets and school supplies.

Bekia was launched in Cairo in 2017. Initially, the business model did not prove successful.

“We used to rent a car and go to certain locations every 40 days to collect waste from people,” Afifi, 26, explained. “We then created a website and started encouraging people to use it.”

After the website was launched, people could wait at home for someone to collect the waste. “Instead of 40 days, we now could visit people within a week.”

To use Bekia’s services, people need to log onto the website and specify what they want to discard. They are assigned points based on the waste they are offering, and these points can be used in one of three ways: Donated to people in need, saved for later, or exchanged for products. As for the collected waste, it is given to specialized recycling companies for processing.

“We want to have 50,000 customers over the next two years who regularly use our service to get rid of their waste,” Afifi said.  

Trying to spread environmental awareness has not been easy. “We had a lot of trouble with initial investment at first, and we got through with an investment that was far from enough. The second problem we faced was spreading this culture among people — in the first couple of months, we received no orders,” Afifi said.

The team soldiered on and slowly built a client base, currently serving 7,000 customers. In terms of what lies ahead for Bekia, he said: “We’re expanding from 22 to 30 areas in Cairo this year. We’re launching an app very soon and a new website with better features.”

Go Clean, another Egyptian recycling startup dedicated to raising environmental awareness, works under the patronage of the Ministry of Environment. “We started in 2017 by recycling waste from factories, and then by February 2019 we started expanding,” said founder and CEO Mohammed Hamdy, 30.

The Cairo-based company collects recyclables from virtually all places, including households, schools, universities, restaurants, cafes, companies and embassies. The customers separate the items into categories and then fill out a registration form. Alternatively, they can make contact through WhatsApp or Facebook. A driver is then dispatched to collect the waste, carrying a scale to weigh it. 

“The client can be paid in cash for the weight of their recyclables, or they can make a donation to a special needs school in Cairo,” Hamdy explained. There is also the option of trading the waste for dishwashing soap, with more household products to be added in the future.

Trying to cover a country with 100 million people was never going to be easy, and Go Clean faced some logistical problems. It overcame them by hiring more drivers and getting more trucks. There was another challenge along the way: “We had to figure out a way to train the drivers, from showing them how to use GPS and deal with clients,” said Hamdy.

“We want to spread awareness about the environment everywhere. We go to schools, universities, companies and even factories to give sessions about the importance of recycling and how dangerous plastic is. We’re currently covering 20 locations across Cairo and all of Alexandria. We want to cover all of Egypt in the future,” he added.

With a new app on the way, Hamdy said things are looking positive for the social startup, and people are becoming invested in the initiative. “We started out with seven orders per day, and now we get over 100.”