Written by on July 23, 2019

WITH rapid rise in the population and urbanization, the generation of waste has compatibly increased.

So it goes without saying that as our cities and towns keep growing at a rapid rate, the many dumpsites which were initially outside them, have now come within the vicinities.

However, open dumping of solid waste by our local authorities come with various health and environmental challenges.

The many defies that come with waste dump sites include surface water and ground water contamination, bad smell, release of greenhouse gases, accidental hazards caused by fires and loss of vegetation.

These glitches are basically worsened due to lack of disposal of contaminated liquid that is generated from water percolating through a solid waste disposal sites.

Shortage of cover as well  poor dump site design or no design, lack of engineered barriers and closure of waste dump sites when need arises, remain crucial challenges to be ignored.

Of course we are aware that waste is now a global business and people have little option but to use dumps for disposing rubbish, thereby creating massive sites full of hazardous materials which often the poor make their destinations to look for something they can lay hands on.

The story of Chirundu residents raiding a local dump site for expired products for that reason makes disheartened reading even in the eyes of stinging poverty.

Unfortunately this tendency of scavenging for expired products that are disposed of by different institutions at the dump site in Choonga village is not restricted to Chirundu residents only but it is a national phenomenon.

Chirundu council chairman Mr. Robison Sianduba is therefore right to caution the residents to desist from such tendencies.

Speaking when he visited the dump site to appreciate the challenges of residents who flocked there face, Mr Sianduba warned them about health dangers of eating expired and dirty foods picked from the location.

The practice also brings about many challenges to medical services providers as the cost of medicines have gone up and the need for people to refrain from consuming contaminated food cannot be overemphasized.

We share Mr. Sianduba’s discontentment that despite the sensitization from the council health department, the residents continued scavenging at the dump site mostly by women and children especially when Shoprite disposes waste on particular days.

We also agree that mothers should have love for their children by not feeding them on expired food that may cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and death.

Another resident Esther Chisamu claims however that what is causing people to scavenge is because of poverty in their homes.

But Mr Chisamu needs to be reminded that anything cheap has serious consequences.

We believe that the issue of our dump sites and the development of sound waste management systems must be considered as a national challenge which needs quick answers.

It is common knowledge that the majority of our dump sites in Zambia are poorly managed, if at all, without any controls on materials accepted or records kept, and no security.

The sad part is that waste pickers, like those in Chirundu, are often found collecting recyclables without any protection measures, sometimes even scavenging for food leftovers.

In this sense, dump sites pose significant health and environmental threats both to the people involved in the operations and to the wider general public living close by.

There is need to alert all Zambians to the complications of open dump sites as they are linked to very high levels of risks and latent damage to their health.

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