Friday, 3 Feb 2023

The people risking their lives on a deadly mountain of rubbish

It’s filthy, backbreaking and dangerous work. But for many Kenyans, scavenging through a mountain of deadly rubbish is the only way they can survive.

Every day, an estimated 2,000 people – mainly women and children – rummage through the Dandora rubbish dump on the outskirts of Nairobi, desperately hunting through dirty plastic, broken glass and medical waste for recyclables to sell – or even food to eat. A kilo of plastics will earn them just 11p. 

Many work with bare hands, risking their health as they do so. Waste pickers are vulnerable to cancers, respiratory issues, skin problems, fungal infections and miscarriages and infertility, among a host of other conditions.

Sites like this proliferate across the developing world. Globally, in countries such as India, Ghana and Vietnam, waste pickers, who are predominantly female, suffer from debilitating diseases as a result.

Griffins Ochieng, executive director for the Centre for Environmental Justice and Development, a Nairobi-based nonprofit focusing on the problem of plastic waste, says: ‘This is a global problem. Any dumpsite – anywhere there is plastic pollution – women will be impacted.’





















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