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Waste pickers of Mbeubeuss landfill fight against exclusion, Dakar, Senegal

Mbeubeuss landfill illustrates the tensions between a top-down imposed perspective on waste management for the sake of private profits, and a grassroots perspective from informal waste pickers defending their source of livelihood.


En Francais ci-dessous --- The issues concerning Mbeubeuss landfill are multiple and complex to solve. Located 27km away from the capital, Mbeubeuss is a means of subsistence for one of the poorest populations in Dakar suburbs while the open-air landfill causes high air and soil contamination in the Malika District where more than 17,000 people live. The waste picker community is largely formed by young people unable to find a job. Mbeubeuss landfill represents their last chance to make a living. About 4,000 informal waste pickers vigorously defend their source of revenue even though it highly puts their health and lives at risk. They are a marginalized and discriminated group among the Senegalese society but they have organized in the Bokk Diom Association in the late 1990s when the government tried to remove them and later were granted formal recognition. Bokk Diom continues fighting against their discrimination, and for their recognition, cohesion, and social rights.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Waste pickers of Mbeubeuss landfill fight against exclusion, Dakar, Senegal
State or province:Pikine Departement
Location of conflict:Malika District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

En Français ci-dessous --- Mbeubeuss landfill is operating since 1968 in the middle of Dakar’s densely populated suburbs. It tkes about 450,000 tons of waste per year. There is no other treatment of the waste than the recycling work done by the informal waste pickers. Around 10% of the workers are children (under 13), 25% are women, and 65% are men. By 2016, it was estimated that more than 1800 tons of waste are daily dumped by the trucks coming from Dakar. By June 2017 is expected a feasibility study about the future of the site, discussing once again the future of the site although its closure has been discussed for many years but there is a lack of means to close it and a suitable place to open a new landfill has not been found.

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Project area:170
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:20,000
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:APIX S.A. from France - Project Management of the high-way Dakar-Diamniadio
Relevant government actors:Communauté Urbaine de Dakar (Dakar Urban Community)
Unité de coordination de la gestion des dechets
Government of Senegal
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
International Development Association (IDA)
Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) - It has previously proposed the landfill privitization for the generation of electricity
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) from United States of America - It financed the medial center for the wastepickers
International Labor Organization (ILO) - Trained young wastepickers to other professional activities
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Association Bokk Diom des Récupérateurs et Recycleurs de Mbeubeuss & Book Diom Women’s Recycling Committee
Global Alliance of Waste Pickers (Globalrec)
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)
ENDA Graff
CAFEM-SD ex-AVER-B (Association des vendeueses de rue de la Banlieu or Association of Women Street Vendors on the Periphery)
Habitat International Coalition
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Trade unions
Wastepickers, recyclers
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Fires, Soil contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Global warming, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution
Other Environmental impactsLivestock and farming are threaten by the landfill pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases
Potential: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Other Health impactsWastepickers killed in fires
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence
Other socio-economic impactsChildren working in the landfill (at least 10%)
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Increase waste pickers involvement in decisions concerning the future of the landfill, strengthen the capacities to take care of their health (health insurance for the waste pickers) and the that of the surrounding communities. Waste pickers are against the closure and relocation of the site. ------ en Français ---- Ameliorer l'implication des recycleurs dans la prise de decision concernant le site. Leur octroyer une assurance maladie, les recycleurs s'opposent formellement à la fermeture du site et à toute privatisation de la gestion des déchets.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Two approaches to waste management are opposed in Mbeubeuss, and involve international political forces against locally marginalized group of waste pickers. Foreign private interests on the landfill have persisted for more than a decade but if it is privatized it would endanger many waste picker jobs while it would probably indebt the Senegalese government for the sake of private foreign interests. On the other hand, the waste pickers defend their grassroots perspective to preserve their jobs and decrease negative social and environmental impacts of the landfill. ----- en Francais ----Deux visions s'opposent concernant la gestion des déchets, celle imposée par les institutions financières internationales (sous la houlette de la Banque Mondiale) qui vise avant tout à générer des profits pour les investisseurs privés et celle défendue par les acteurs locaux, les recycleurs quo défendent leurs revenus et indépendance.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

WIEGO, Mbeubeuss : Les femmes dans la récupération de déchets.

Note Technique sur le Projet Pure
[click to view]

Villes ciblées – Décharge de Mbeubeuss : Analyse des impacts et amélioration des conditions de vie et de l’environnement à Diamalaye (Malika), Dakar, Rapport Final Project 'Pure', Avril 2011
[click to view]

Oumar Cissé, Ed. 2012. Les décharges d'ordures en Afrique: Mbeubeuss à Dakar au Sénégal, KARTHALA Editions
[click to view]

Landfill Gas Capture Opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa, The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, 2005
[click to view]

Alice JUDELL, The (dis)Possession of Waste at the Mbeubeuss Dump in Dakar, 2012
[click to view]

Présentation du Project Dakar Diamniadio
[click to view]

Project toll highway Dakar-Diamniadio. Crédit IDA 4579 SN.
[click to view]

Association Bokk Diom des Récupérateurs et recycleurs de Mbeubeuss
[click to view]

L’Autoroute à péage Dakar - Diamniadio - Aibd, un véritable projet urbain avec plusieurs composantes.
[click to view]

Accessible Transport in Africa: The Dakar Diamniadio Toll Highway (DDTH) Pilot in Senegal
[click to view]

Hamadou Tidiane SY, La décharge de Mbeubeuss : creuset d'expériences, CRDI
[click to view]

Etude de faisabilité sur la délocalisation de Mbeubeuss - Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr donne des gages aux recycleurs, Décembre 2016
[click to view]

Globalrec, Association Book Diom des Récupérateurs et recycleurs de Mbeubeuss
[click to view]

Site d'enfouissement de Mbeubeuss : Étude de l'impact sur la santé humaine à Diamalaye (Malika) utilisant une approche écosanté (Sénégal), IDRC/CRDI
[click to view]

Visite du ministre de gouvernance locale a Mbeubeuss, les eboueurs se dechargent sur Diouf Sarr, 27/12/2016
[click to view]

Afrik21, SENEGAL: Mbeubeuss Landfill Rehabilitation Benefits from IDA Loan.
[click to view]

[click to view]

WIEGO, Project to help improve working conditions for Mbeubeuss waste pickers
[click to view]

France TV Info, Sénégal: L’apocalyptique décharge de Mbeubeuss, l’une des plus grandes d’Afrique, empoisonne la vie des habitants
[click to view]

Habitat International Coalition, Organizing as a tool for transformation for Women Informal Workers in Dakar.
[click to view]

Globalrec, Mobilizations Around the World for Global Waste Pickers Day 2020
[click to view]

ILO, A first step towards improving working conditions of waste pickers in Senegal.
[click to view]

The Nation, The Global Garbage Economy Begins (and Ends) in This Senegalese Dump.
[click to view]

Les gages d’Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr aux recycleurs, 29/03/2017
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Jenna Harvey, Fire at Mbeubeuss.
[click to view]

La décharge de Dakar, Mbeubeuss, Aout 2012, Video en français
[click to view]

Décharge de Mbeubeuss : la plaie nourricière de Dakar, 15/02/2016
[click to view]

Raffaele Urselli, Dakar landfill and the wastepickers Social production of value, urban subalternity and work ethics, Pdf Presentation
[click to view]

Mbeubeuss, la décharge de Dakar, 17 minutes Film en Francais
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Camila Rolando Mazzuca; Update: Max Stoisser
Last update27/05/2020
Conflict ID:2859
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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