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Taiz Dump Poses Endless Risks to Residents
  Written By: Sadeq Al-Humaidi (YEMEN POST STAFF)
  Article Date:
February 0
9, 2009


Garbage dumps pose a great risk and crime for hundreds of people in Taiz. The environmental horror triangle lies in the smoke released by the factories and their chemical dumps as well as garbage dumps and their epidemic remains. The third thing is sanitation pool. These three factors cause soil deterioration and pollution of air and underground water. They are also responsible for several diseases including asthma and cancer. According to reports, Taiz city accommodates the largest number of cancer-afflicted citizens in Yemen.

Garbage dump

At the western tip of Taiz city exactly at Mafraq Shara'ab lies the garbage dump. Though the place is part of the city, the households spreading all around are not connected to the public electricity network. The place emits clouds of smoke and rancid odor.

Meal banquet

Amidst clouds of smokes and fires, four women spread their rug to have their breakfast. All around the dump, there is no borderline between people and animals. All are equal. All are searching for a livelihood within the accumulated dump. A woman is searching, a donkey is slipping its head into garbage bags and a child is roaming his eyes over the garbage hoping to find a small piece of bread to eat it, or plastic to sell. All, cows, sheep, goats and donkeys along with men, women and children, are searching hoping to find remains of things to benefit from.  

Villages live on the dump

The dump is a crime committed by several parties in the province. It is the real source of death for a lot of people. Abdul Rahman Ali, a local of Taiz, noted the dump has turned to be a domestic provisional institution for over 600 families distributed in three nearby villages. Eating the rotten meals of the dump and inhaling the toxic and chemical gases radiating out greatly affect the health of people living close to the dump. Ali demanded the state to direct its attention to such poor people and to set practical solutions for their problems. As citizens, they have the right to decent living, hinting that dogs in other countries have more rights than people here.

Accidents and epidemics

Abdullah Al-Badawi, a shopper living close to the dump, stated that the dump was far away from Taiz city in the past some 10 km. Now, it is in the heart of the city and it is surrounded by roundabout, houses, shops, markets from all directions whose skies are full of rising smokes.

Resenting the ceaseless emission of harmful and toxic gases and smokes, Al-Badawi said that the nearby residents are subject to several diseases, some of which lead to death, especially among children. In addition, the dump affects soil, environment, and underground drinking water.  

Story of dumping driver

Since the inception of the dump in 1987, wheel loader driver Abdullah Yahya Al-Sabri has been a close friend for the dump. He admitted several times to the hospital after being afflicted by diseases like asthma, high blood pressure and other health problems that they were caused by his job, in the garbage dump.

Polluted milk and meat

The cows of nearby villages feed on the dump remains and this causes their products of meat and milk to get polluted and harmful for consumers. As narrated by locals, the milk seems unnatural and full of fat. Despite the fact that they are polluted, most of these products including ghee, milk and meat are sold in the city's markets.

Dump contents

The dump contains several types of disposable products and leftovers including organic remains. There are also remains of slaughterhouses including meats, fish and chickens together with solid and liquid wastes brought from factories, hospitals and medical labs. These materials are not decomposed. Such materials could pose great risks to locals and those who get close to the dump.

Emitting gases

Garbage dumps emits different gases including Methane gas which makes up 50 to 70 percent, CO2 and Nitrogen which form 20-50 percent as well as 3-10 percent of Hydrogen, Oxygen and other gases.

Moreover, gases like Dioxin emit from the medical remains and empty bottles and it is blamed for causing cancer and asthma. Studies indicate that soil and air pollution are blamed for 40 percent of death cases worldwide every year. Taiz city is not in a safe place because wind could transfer these gases and toxicate the air. The dump is also responsible for air, water and soil pollution especially in neighboring areas.

Year-round disaster

Taiz environment is passively affected by burning the dump remains and this emits toxic gases which find their way into houses, markets and shops. The current estimations put the number at 32-45 tons, while the Remains Department is just capable to dispose about 60 percent.  After 22 years, the dumps are estimated to reach 1,538 tons, making it impossible for the department, in its current and modest capacities, to handle the matter.

The existence of the dump in its current position contradicts the definition set in the Republican Resolution No (39) in 1999 concerning public cleanliness because the area is densely populated and largely agricultural. There have been recent proposals to transfer the dump to another area located on Taiz-Al-Hodeidah highway. The place is far away from any populated villages or agricultural lands. However, an Indian company has presented a study to level a new dump some 12 km to the north of Taiz city. Observers stress that the new dump could cause another disaster as it is located near the sewage pool, adding its location contradicts the Yemeni Environmental Health Law.