Taiwan is seeking to expand the scope of the aid it sends to its allies in the Asia-Pacific, from medical and agricultural assistance to environmental matters such as garbage disposal, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) officials said.
Following a ministerial forum between Taiwan and its six Asia-Pacific allies in July last year, the administration assigned several teams of experts to make on-site assessments of the environmental situation in the island countries before drafting assistance plans.
Wu Yi-lin (吳奕霖), a senior environmental specialist at the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Office, said that for the people of the Pacific islands, garbage disposal appears to be a more pressing problem than rising sea levels.
“The world is focused on the problem of rising sea levels, as it is an index of global climate change, but they [the people living on the Pacific islands] think that waste disposal is a more urgent matter,” Wu said.
Most of the Pacific island countries are atolls and have little land for waste dumps, he said.
“They fear that they might be submerged — not by the sea, but by trash,” he said.
Liang Yeon-fong (梁永芳), director of the EPA International Affairs Office and one of the experts who conducted on-site assessments in the Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Palau and Nauru, said garbage disposal is a common worry among Taiwan’s allies in the Pacific.
The problem can have a significant impact on the economy of some countries, particularly those that depend on tourism, as tourists are usually repelled by a dirty, disorderly environment, he said.
These countries have only simple, crude waste dumps and sometimes garbage is piled up in the open, Liang said.
To deal with their waste disposal problem, those countries not only need money, but also technical assistance and training, he said.
Liang said the Solomon Islands wanted a waste incinerator, but given the technical expertise needed to maintain and operate such a facility, the administration believed this would not be a practical solution for that country.
The teams said the Solomon Islands once obtained an incinerator for medical waste, but that within three months the equipment had broken down because it was not used properly and has not been used since because of lack of funds and expertise to repair it.
Noting that most of the waste in the Pacific island countries is biodegradable material such as fruit skin and pits, Liang said collection was the main problem, as there were insufficient garbage trucks and public trash cans in those countries.
He said degradable garbage could be used as organic fertilizer, a practice that is already being used at some Taiwanese missions there.
In a report presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which oversees the foreign aid budget, the EPA recommended donating garbage trucks and helping with the creation of recycling systems.
The EPA has no budget for foreign aid, but can provide technical assistance and manpower to the nation’s allies. Liang called on the ministry to integrate environmental protection in its assistance program, which so far has focused on medical services and agricultural aid.
“Taiwan has expertise in waste reduction and recycling,” he said.
EPA statistics show that Taiwan’s recycling rate was 38.7 percent last year, which compares well with other developed countries.
FAMILY FEUD: Weng Jen-hsien, who was convicted of killing six people in 2016, was the second prisoner to be executed since President Tsai Ing-wen took office A death row inmate was executed on Wednesday, less than a year after he was convicted of killing six people by setting fire to his home. Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said that he signed the order and the death sentence was carried out on Wednesday afternoon in New Taipei City. The Supreme Court on July 10 last year sentenced 53-year-old Weng Jen-hsien (翁仁賢) to death after he was convicted of killing his parents, niece, nephew and nephew’s wife and his parents’ caregivers. Weng set fire to his home in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭) on Feb. 7, 2016, after a family feud
At a campground in Nantou County, a team of women are using ropes to shimmy up a towering seven-story tall Chinaberry tree, fighting their fear of heights and reconnecting with nature. Tree climbing remains somewhat niche in Taiwan, but a growing number of women are embracing the challenge thanks to the island’s first international certified female climber arborist. Sylvia Hsu (許芢涵), 26, said she was inspired to set up her own women-only tree climbing classes after seeing the popularity of similar gatherings in Europe. “A women-only camp is a more relaxed environment,” she said. “I was hooked on trees after my first climb...
Police in Kaohsiung are investigating a possible murder after a woman’s body was found in a plastic container on Thursday. The bucket was found by a person operating an excavator on a construction site at a private lot next to the Ciaotou Sugar Refinery Station (橋頭糖廠站) on the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit system. Police investigator Chen Jen-cheng (陳仁正) yesterday said police had reviewed missing person reports and have narrowed the identity of the victim down to about 20 possible people. Physical evidence suggested she might have been a Fongshan District (鳳山) woman surnamed Lin (林), who was about 60 years old when she
IN PRINCIPLE: The Central Epidemic Command Center began yesterday to ban visits to hospitalized patients, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 10 new COVID-19 cases — eight imported and two locally transmitted — bringing the nation’s tally of confirmed cases to 339. The imported cases involved six men and two women, all Taiwanese, who had traveled to Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Indonesia, countries in Latin America, the UK or the US before arriving back in Taiwan between March 6 and Tuesday, center data showed. Among them, patient No. 338 was part of a tour group that traveled to Austria and the Czech Republic, and has resulted in an infection cluster of five cases,