'Shocking' conditions at Kenya dump

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As part of blog action day, today’s a day when every blog features a post about the environment. Turns out that this is an environmental blog where most of the posts are about the environment. But nothing like a deadline for a noble cause to make me blog, so here goes…

What the rich use and throw away, the poor are reduced to scavenging to earn a meager living. Yes, while climate change rightly takes up a lot of attention, more mundane problems including landfills in poor communities, the export of waste from the first world to the third world, and the “shocking” poverty that drives this export of waste all deserve their fair share of attention.

U.N.: ‘Shocking’ conditions at Kenya dump – World Environment – MSNBC.com

“Willis Ochieng, 10, scavenges through smoking refuse piled as high as a house at one of Africa‚Äôs biggest rubbish mountains, his friends sitting nearby sucking on dirty plastic bottles of noxious yellow glue.

Located near slums in the east of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the open dump receives some 2,000 tons of garbage daily. A U.N. study published on Friday says it is seriously harming the health of children and polluting the city.”

And boy, do the people there suffer. Asthma, anemia, high levels of lead in the blood, chronic cough, and a smorgasbord of other acute and chronic conditions.

This dump is not alone, of course. Landfills are a feature of every country, and in my current home state of North Caroiina, are located with disproportionate frequency in African American communities. the free market advocate would say that this represents an opportunity for the people in the community to gain some employment and make some money. The truth of the matter, however, is that we do not pay the right price for waste generation. The people who live near, and make a living off the “dump” subsidize our profligate selves.

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