Last update:
2020-03-31

La Chureca dumpsite enclosure, Managua, Nicaragua

Giant dump La Chureca - historically serving as an urban commons and sustaining 2,000 families - became modernized in the name of sustainable development. Waste pickers since then struggle for inclusion in the recycling sector and against displacement.


Description:

La Chureca is Managua’s principal landfill.  Since 1971, 90% of the city's waste became discarded here without any regulation, leading to the accumulation of around four million square meters of garbage and severe environmental contamination. The discarded waste was accessible for everyone so that the "urban-poor" started to live from waste-picking until in 2009 a large-scale development project restricted access to the site and converted it into a modern sanitary landfill. [1][2][3] The project brought “the most modern landfill of Latin America” [4], according to the Spanish Development Agency (AECID), who stood behind the project, as well as infrastructural, environmental and socio-economic improvements in the Acahualinca neighborhood, promising a better life for the local community [1][3][5]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:La Chureca dumpsite enclosure, Managua, Nicaragua
Country:Nicaragua
Location of conflict:Managua
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Urban development conflicts
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The landfill modernization project was realized as part of the Barrio Acahualinca Integrated Development Project (Proyecto de Desarrollo Integral del Barrio de Acahualinca) and was funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). The investment was of US$ 45 million (EUR 41,2 million), making it the largest project ever undertaken by AECID in Nicaragua. [3][12]. The project planning between 2007 and 2009 initially involved the Spanish engineering company Tragsa. It pushed for a modernization of the dump area, which before had not been a priority for the municipality. [3]

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Project area:42
Level of Investment:45,000,000 USD
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:2,000 waste picker families
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:Grupo Tragsa from Spain - constructed recycling plant and sanitized landfill
Empresa de Tratamiento Integral de Desechos Sólidos (Emtrides) from Nicaragua - Operates recycling plant and sanitary landfill in La Chureca
Relevant government actors:Municipal government of Managua
Nicaraguan Government
International and Finance InstitutionsSpanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) from Spain - launched development project in Acahualinca neighborhood
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Red de Emprendedores Nicaragüenses del Reciclaje (RedNica)
Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Recicladores (Red Lacre; Latin American and Caribbean Network of Waste Pickers)
Cooperativa de Mujeres Recicladoras de la Chureca
Cooperativa La Chureca Guardabarranco
Cooperativa Nueva Vida Limpia
Cooperativa Centroamérica Limpia
FNT La Chureca
WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment – Globalizing and Organizing)
Global Alliance of of Waste Pickers (Globalrec)
Solidaridad Internacional
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Trade unions
Wastepickers, recyclers
Women
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Migration/displacement
Repression
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:Nicaragua’s waste picker organization RedNica urges the municipal and national governments to promote inclusive recycling policies [15]. In case of La Chureca, it proposed the formation of cooperatives as an alternative for expelled waste pickers, and demanded municipal support for these, for example in municipal waste collection with a separation at source system [1][2][7]. As an immediate measure, it demanded controlled access to the landfill for 320 affected waste pickers via an authentication system and the stop of violence by police and security forces [2][12].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:As Hartmann (2018) concludes, the case of La Chureca demonstrates the limitations of inclusive neoliberal development policies in municipal solid waste management. Driven by a discourse of “sustainable development” and technological innovation, the project aimed to equally improve environmental quality, to commodify solid waste as a means to increase economic profit, and to address the social and economic needs of the community. In doing so, however, the project and the implemented policies led to the displacement of hundreds of waste pickers, an uneven distribution of employment among different affected neighborhoods, and the continuation of informal waste picking due to persistent impoverishment. [3]

The project ultimately led to the enclosure of Managua’s waste commons, which, as Zapata and Zapata Campos (2015) argue, had been created by dispossessed communities through the longstanding practice of waste-picking and the creation and appropriation of waste as a resource. Churequeros regarded the access to this commons as their earned right, as they had often spent most of the life working and living at the site, thereby enduring contamination and health risks. They have also undergone a process of empowerment through partly successful protests (as for example in 2008) and organizing in unions and cooperatives (as of 2015, 85 percent of all waste pickers in La Chureca were organized), leading to an increasing social and political recognition of the community. [6] As this case shows, the struggle for the recognition of waste picker rights and recycling initiatives in Managua is an ongoing one and some of the improvements made in La Chureca came with severe negative side effects on waste pickers who lost their livelihoods.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Espinosa, T.; Parra, F. (2018): El Caso de la Chureca, Nicaragua. WIEGO report.

[14] Hartmann, C. (2012): Uneven urban spaces: accessing trash in Managua Nicaragua. J. Latin Am. Geograph, 11, 1, 143–163.

[14] Hartmann, C. (2012): Uneven urban spaces: accessing trash in Managua Nicaragua.

J. Latin Am. Geograph, 11, 1, 143–163.

[5] AECID (2013): La transformación del vertedero de La Chureca. Agencia Española de Cooperación

Internacional para el Desarrollo.

[5] AECID (2013): La transformación del vertedero de La Chureca. Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo.

Azavedo, A., Carenzo, S., et al. (2018): Inclusive Waste Governance and Grassroots Innovations for Social, Environmental and Economic Change. Report on first research outcomes of the project Recycling Networks & Waste Governance Recycling Networks. WIEGO.
[click to view]

[6] Zapata, P; Zapato Campos, M. (2015): Producing, appropriating and recreating the myth of urban commons. In: Boch, C.; Korberger, M. (eds.): Urban Commons. Rethinking the City, pp. 92-108. Oxon/New York: Routledge.

[7] Azavedo, A., Carenzo, S., et al. (2018): Inclusive Waste Governance and Grassroots Innovations for Social, Environmental and Economic Change. Report on first research outcomes of the project Recycling Networks & Waste Governance Recycling Networks. WIEGO.
[click to view]

[13] Zapata, P., Zapata Campos, M. (2015): Unexpected translations in urban policy mobility: the case of the Acahualinca development programme in Managua, Nicaragua. Habitat Internat., 46, 271–276.

[3] Hartmann, C. (2018): Waste picker livelihoods and inclusive neoliberal municipal solid waste management policies: The case of the La Chureca garbage dump site in Managua, Nicaragua. Waste Management, 71, 565–577.

[2] Espinosa, T.; Parra, F. (2018): El Caso de la Chureca, Nicaragua. WIEGO report. (see document attached below)

[19] Montcada, R. (2020): En planes un nuevo relleno sanitario en La Chureca con vida útil de 30 años. La Prensa, 19.01.2020. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[4] AECID (2016): La Chureca: el vertedero más moderno de América Latina. 25.05.2016. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[7] Barberena, E. (2020): "Churequeros" bloquean la entrada al basurero. El nuevo diario, 03.03.2008. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[8] RedLacre(2012): Comunicado: Situación de Recicladores Vertedero de la Chureca en Nicaragua. Globalrec, 15.03.2012. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[9] RedLacre (2013): Red Lacre: Vertedero La Chureca en Managua lleva 20 días en toma. Globalrec, 02.08.2013. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[10] RedNica (2013): REDNICA: In Defense of Our Livelihood! Waste pickers fighting eviction from Managua landfill. Globalrec, 05.07.2013. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[12] Montcada, R. (2017): Exrecicladores de La Chureca exigen trabajo en relleno sanitario. La Prensa, 18.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[16] RedNica (2017): Rednica plans to organize 15 new cooperatives of grassroots recyclers in Nicaragua. Globalrec, 21.07.2017. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[17] WIEGO (2017): Nicaragua. Situación de los recicladores en Nicaragua. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[18] Rednica (2018): Asambleas de recicladores para enfrentar la inestabilidad en Nicaragua. Globalrec, 12.08.2018. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[8a] Barberena, E. (2020): "Churequeros" bloquean la entrada al basurero. El nuevo diario, 03.03.2008. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

[8b] RedLacre(2012): Comunicado: Situación de Recicladores Vertedero de la Chureca en Nicaragua. Globalrec, 15.03.2012. (Online, last accessed: 10.03.2020)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Solidaridad Internacional (2012): La Chureca, un enorme basurero de Nicaragua, donde familias enteras buscan cada día algo de comer. Youtube, 18.08.2012.
[click to view]

Other documents

Espinosa, T.; Parra, F. (2018): El Caso de la Chureca, Nicaragua. WIEGO report.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update31/03/2020
Comments
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