An Open Letter from ISWA President, Antonis Mavropoulos
On March 11th, 113 people were killed from a massive landslide in Koshe, Addis Ababa’s dumpsite. More than 80 are still missing. The landslide levelled more than 30 makeshift homes of informal recyclers living inside the Koshe dump.
Two weeks ago, the biggest lake in the city of Bangalore, India, caught fire (for the second time in 6 months) and kept on burning for 12 hours, leaving behind a black air patch and a bunch of terrified fire fighters wondering how this could have happened in the first place. A lethal combination of untreated effluents from the many industries and large scale illegal waste disposal, often including rubbish which are set on fire, are the main causes of this ecological disaster that will make the city unlivable within next 5-10 years! Only God knows how many losses and health damages have already occurred and will further be created in India’s Silicon Valley by this catastrophe.
Both tragic incidents are alarming: dumpsites and illegal disposal are not simply environmental or resource problems, they are becoming a global health emergency as ISWA has warned many times. In 2016, there were more than 3 deaths per day directly linked to dumpsites, without counting the long-term health impacts and the chronic diseases involved.
ISWA launched its global initiative to close the world’s biggest dumpsites last September. A few days ago, ISWA released the dedicated website http://closedumpsites.iswa.org that aims to provide awareness, know-how, case studies and support to everyone that would like to join the global movement against the dumpsites. Although the response from many is encouraging, with a large number of volunteers offering their time and support to help us achieve these goals, we are still at the beginning of the journey.
The involvement of the waste management industry in this initiative is a key-issue for its success. The industry spends millions of dollars every year for Corporate Social Responsibility purposes. ISWA’s initiative is a great opportunity to invest some of this money for a great return: the improvement of the 64 million lives that are allocated around the 50 biggest dumpsites of the world.
This is an open call for the waste management companies of the world: help ISWA to drive the #closedumpsites initiative. The first step is to sign ISWA’s Declaration here. But it doesn’t stop there. Work with ISWA to persuade the global community that waste management must be substantially upgraded in the political agenda and that we need more investments to close the world’s most polluted places and protect humanity from their vast health and environmental impacts. No company should be out of this effort; every company should find its way to contribute. My email is amavrop(at)gmail.com and I will be happy to publish all the contributions on http://closedumpsites.iswa.org