Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Magic Mountain

I happened on a great article the other day by author Matthew Power, titled "The magic mountain: Trickle-down economics in a Philippine garbage dump". He effectively paints a picture of a day in the life of a mangangalahig at the Payatas dump site in Quezon City, Manila.

The manangalahig is a scavenger, sorting through trash for recyclables which can be exchanged for a few rupees. The conditions and minimal payback may seem futile but the few rupees they do earn is far more than they would be making farming as they had in the past. And when metro Manila produces on average 6,169 tons of garbage daily you know there is plenty of trash to go arround. Multiply that mass by 364.25 days in a year, and again by 20 years and you can begin to understand how this 130 foot high, 50 acre, 45,000,000 ton mountain grows.

The Payatas dump site was home to a tradgic event in the year 2000. Monsoon rains permiated the garbage mountain, which had been piled at a 70ยบ slope, and caused the pile to slide killing hundreds of mangangalahig and their families living at the base of the heap. Exact numbers on the casualties will never be known for sure as the recovery effort was forced to stop days later, when hope had been lost.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On one hand you have to think- good for the people that are scavenging the dump and reclaiming the recyclables but what a tragedy to have a garbage avalanche kill you and your family. If we do not change our ways-are we all going to be consumed by the garbage avalanche? We place garbage where we can't see it but it is still there. We are playing a 2 years olds game; if we can't see it - it's not there.

I heard a story the other day about the Red Deer dump:
A guy i knew was dropping some stuff off at the dump and another guy pulls in with a utility trailer that is full of "stuff" (it was relayed to me that it was not all 'garbage'). Anyway the guy just unhooked the trailer and drove off; trailer and all left in the dump.

There appears to be be many tragedies at the dumps around the world, from poor having to live there, to lose of life to misuse. It makes me feel sad and angry.....