Lebanese residents are no longer able to ignore the waste around them. Sociologist John Scanlan has observed that below the ordered and familiar topography of the city exists a “shadow counterpart” which we rarely think about. This unwelcome shadow “resists our attempts to disconnect from it.” The garbage crisis of 2015 exposed this jarring disconnect between the two topographies and along with it, the failure of politicians to provide basic utilities including waste collection and treatment.
The civil society movement during the garbage crisis in Beirut after July 2015.
When garbage started to pile up in the streets of Beirut in summer 2015, a new wave of civil society protests was initiated in the country. Thousands of Lebanese were protesting in the streets – against the garbage situation, corruption of the government, the failure of electing a president, sectarianism and many more issues connected to the crisis of the state and the waste management. More than half a year later, no final solution for the garbage has been found and the political situation has not changed. It is said that the civil society movement failed to put pressure on the government, but also the regime itself is made responsible for the lack of change. For many people it was hard to follow up with what was happening on the streets during the demonstrations and to understand who the protestors were and which goals they tried to achieve. This paper analyzes the dynamics of the movement and tries to explain why not much has changed so far and if there is any chance for civil society movements in Lebanon in the future.