Last update:
2020-04-23

Georgetown's garbage woes and small attempts to include waste pickers, Guyana

International investment led to the closure of Guyana's most problematic dump and supported affected informal waste pickers, however without including them fully at the new landfill. In the meantime, waste continues to pile up in Georgetown's streets.


Description:

Guyana suffers from a longstanding problem of waste collection and disposal, leading to frequent garbage overflows in urban areas and severe environmental contamination at dumpsites. In an attempt to address these problems locally and provide for more sustainable waste management solutions, the country in 2007 took up a US$ 18 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to implement its ‘Solid Waste Management Programme’, focusing among others on the replacing of open-air dumps with sanitary landfills and improvements in waste collection and recycling. [1][2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Georgetown's garbage woes and small attempts to include waste pickers, Guyana
Country:Guyana
Location of conflict:Georgetown
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

Guyana’s solid waste policy provides for the closure of all uncontrolled open-air dumps across the country and the establishment of landfills with proper treatment of solid waste. Along with that, the formalization of waste picker work was announced as part of the Georgetown Solid Waste Management Programme. [2][13]

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Project area:60 ha
Level of Investment:18,000,000 USD
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:several thousand
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Puran Brothers Disposal Services from Guyana - Operator of landfill and major waste collector in Georgetown
Cevons Waste Management Inc. from Guyana - major waste collector in Georgetown
BK International (BK) from Guyana - Involved in constructions at Haags Bosch landfill; co-operated landfill until 2015
Relevant government actors:Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Government of Georgetown & Municipal Solid Waste Management Department
Government of Guyana & Ministry of Communities
International and Finance InstitutionsInter-American Development Bank (IADB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Guyana Total Recyclers Cooperative
Reciclaje Inclusivo IRR
Movimento Nacional dos Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis (MNCR)
Guyana Scrap Metal Association
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Fires, Waste overflow
Potential: Global warming, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths
Potential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:While seems to be a clear problem of waste collection services in general, a separation at the source of pick-up system would help to improve the sorting of garbage before being dumped at the landfill. Also several planned measures to improve environmental security and recycling at the landfill have been regularly mentioned by the landfill management, among others, the installation of proper leachate treatment and composting systems, as well as facilities for shredding, sorting and recycling. With regard to the work of waste pickers, further security measures and better social protection are being proposed, as well as the empowerment of recycling cooperatives. [11][12][15][16][33]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Problems of garbage overflows seem to remain unsolved in Georgetown. The environmental impact of the disposal of waste seems to have been reduced since the opening of Haags Bosch landfill, although there are ongoing problems with smoke and air pollution and there is no systemic solution to improve recycling. With regard to the situation of waste pickers, it seems that the conditions for those who previously worked at Mandela dump and were addressed by the project donors seem to have slightly improved. While waste picking remains a precarious and risky activity, they have at least gained social recognition and the right to access recyclable waste. They have also received some assistance to improve their situation. However, given the scope of the investment and the problems the city seems to have with private contractors, it seems that there could have been more socio-economic measures to empower waste pickers than those that were actually realized. What remains moreover unclear is the impact of the landfill privatization on people who live from waste-picking, but were not included at the time of closure and are thus not authorized to access the site.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Cohen, P. (2014): Resettlement and the Human Dimension: Lessons from an informal recycler inclusion project. 'IAIA14 Conference Proceedings', 34th Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment.

Cohen, P. (2014): Resettlement and the Human Dimension: Lessons from an informal recycler inclusion project. 'IAIA14 Conference Proceedings',

34th Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment.

[18] HGP TV (2016): WASTE PICKERS PROTEST AT HAAG BOSCH. Youtube, 08.01.2016. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[12] IRR (2013): Relleno Sanitario Haags Bosch. Video Youtube, Reciclaje Inclusivo IRR, 17.12.2013. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[3] Smith, M. (2009): Mandela dump site a ticking time bomb, disaster. Kaieteur News, 10.05.2009. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[5] Rhodius, T. (2010): Gov’t promises landfill fix. Stabroek News, 22.12.2010. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[7] Kaieteur News (2010): Benschop granted self-bail on obstruction of traffic charge. 17.12.2010. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[8] Stabroek News (2010): Benschop, Kissoon charged with obstruction. 23.12.2010. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[9] HGP TV (2018): PROLONGED DRY WEATHER LIKELY TO CAUSE FIRES AT HAAGS BOSCH. Video, Youtube, 09.10.2018. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[11] IRR (2014): Recycling and Carnivals in Guyana. Video Youtube, Reciclaje Inclusivo IRR, 02.07.2014. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[1] Wills, D. (2014): From Mandela to Haags Bosch. Guyana Chronicle, 16.07.2014. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[14] newsroom.gy (2019): Haags Bosch garbage site set for major upgrades/expansion. 15.11.2019. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[15] Kaieteur News Online (2017): Minister expresses concerns over health of waste pickers. 27.07.2017. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[16] Guyana Times (2017): Guyana to take on eco-friendly waste disposal system. 28.07.2017. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[31] Kaieteur News (2019): Haags Bosch Landfill Site readies for oil. 23.12.2019. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[17] Kaieteur News (2016): Haags Bosch “pickers” furious after denied access to dumpsite. 07.01.2016. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[20] Percival, T. (2015): Temporary dumpsite opened at Le Repentir as Haags Bosch continues to burn. Stabroek News, 29.12.2015. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[6] Stabroek News (2010): New garbage challenge hits city as Haags Bosch landfill opening pushed back two months. 11.07.2010. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[30] iNews Guyana (2017): Concerns raised for safety of dumpsite pickers. 22.07.2017. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[26] iNews Guyana (2018): City garbage collectors withdraw services over arrears …M&CC admits no funds to pay. 23.11.2018. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[32] Seoraj, N. (2017): Scrap metal trade to resume. 21.01.2017.
[click to view]

[33] Kaieteur News (2019): Haags Bosch Landfill Site readies for oil. 23.12.2019. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[12] IRR (2013): Relleno Sanitario Haags Bosch. Video Youtube, Reciclaje Inclusivo IRR, 17.12.2013. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[12] IRR (2013): Relleno Sanitario Haags Bosch. Video Youtube, Reciclaje Inclusivo IRR, 17.12.2013. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)

IRR
[click to view]

[11] IRR (2014): Recycling and Carnivals in Guyana. Video Youtube, Reciclaje Inclusivo IRR, 02.07.2014. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)

[9] HGP TV (2018): PROLONGED DRY WEATHER LIKELY TO CAUSE FIRES AT HAAGS BOSCH. Video, Youtube, 09.10.2018. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

[11] IRR (2014): Recycling and Carnivals in Guyana. Video Youtube, Reciclaje Inclusivo IRR, 02.07.2014. (Online, last accessed 20.03.2020)
[click to view]

Other documents

Waste pickers working in Haags Bosch in 2017 (iNews Guyana)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update23/04/2020
Comments
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