Thu, August 18, 2022


Yemen's mountain of toxic trash piles on the country's woes

The al-Azraqain landfill receives hundreds of tonnes of waste a day, including the dangerous untreated medical waste generated by hospitals in Sanaa.

At a landfill near the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a truck unloads bags of colorful trash to the seemingly unending sea of waste covering the area.

Close by, people stand readied with garbage bags to collect recyclables they can find amid the piles of organic, solid, and medical waste.

"We have no solution but to bury the medical waste with the garbage. It is mixed with garbage and buried," said Bahauddin al-Hajj, manager of Data at the landfill.

"This may cause issues in the future, health issues - chemicals may leak into the groundwater, meaning this will affect the environment, this is one of the biggest threats to the environment," he added.

More than seven years of conflict in Yemen have devastated the economy, displaced millions, and wreaked havoc on the environment.

Waste management officials in Sanaa say Saudi-led airstrikes destroyed a medical waste processing incinerator at the landfill site in 2015.

"After the incinerator was bombed, we were forced to mix medical waste with organic waste. This now poses a health risk, for humans, for workers, it is a threat to groundwater," said Muhammad al-Jabri, an official at the landfill.

Houthi administrators say they are looking for support from NGOs to rebuild the facility.

In 2021 the UNDP inaugurated a waste-to-energy system in Lahij in a bid to "revolutionize the governorate’s approach to addressing waste management."

The plant built southwest of the capital is expected to transform up to five tons of solid waste a day, a fraction of the 1,700 tonnes of waste dumped at al-Azraqain.

"Due to the high cost of establishing such a project (incinerator), we have coordinated with the Supreme Council (for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) as well as with various organizations, and God willing at the beginning of next year, we will discuss the rebuilding of this strategic project."

Yemen's warring sides, in a breakthrough, agreed this month on a two-month truce that began on April 2, the first since 2016. The deal eased a coalition blockade on areas held by the Houthis, who ousted former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.




Published : July 03, 2022

By : Reuters