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Hulene Dump Site and waste-pickers protests, Mozambique

In 2018, after a deadly garbage landslide at Hulene Dump in Maputo Mozambique, wastepicker residents protested for more safe and secure livelihoods. For years, the government has delayed relocating families and has yet to formally recognize their work.


Living and dying on a rubbish dump is not a choice as much as it is a necessary reality for resident wastepickers at the Hulene dump in Maputo, Mozambique. It presents itself as a contradiction of being an informal sector worker who - despite contributing to sustainability and a more circular economy - faces neglect, disrespect, and the ongoing threat of physical harm. Maputo, the country’s economic hub is a fast growing city with approximately 1.2 million residents. In 2017, it produced an estimated 1,100 metric tons of waste daily (5). However, Hulene dump was built in colonial times, when the population of the city was but a fraction of what it is now. From 1977 to 1992, the Hulene neighbourhood underwent a population boom during the Mozambican civil war, and people fleeing the war in rural areas further north came to seek refuge in urban centres like Maputo (1). Over time, the increasing cost of living and lack of adequate housing in Maputo has pushed many people to the periphery as part of a prolonged and disordered process of urban sprawl, driving some to set up homes around the dump (4). So many residences have been built around the dump that Hulene has essentially become a garbage island surrounded by houses (3). Population and economic growth (for some) has not been accompanied by proportionate increases in public service provisioning, resulting in serious deficiencies in the treatment of municipal solid waste. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hulene Dump Site and waste-pickers protests, Mozambique
Location of conflict:Maputo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2017, it produced an estimated 1,100 metric tons of waste daily (5).

Project area:17
Level of Investment for the conflictive project40,000,000 to construct a new landfill (3).
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:~ 550 families (3)
Start of the conflict:01/01/2001
Relevant government actors:Celso Correia - Mozambican Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development
Calisto Cossa - Former mayor of Matola
Eneas Comiche - Current mayor of Matola
Yoshiaki Harada - Environmental Minister of Japan
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Livango - An NGO focused on environmental advocacy, education, sustainable development, and social justice.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of mobilization:Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Fires, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:EJOs like Livango propose the integration of wastepickers into the formal waste management sector
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Hulene dump will be converted to a landfill, which should contribute to safer conditions for resident wastepickers. However, with respect to relocating residents of Hulene and assuring that wastepickers are formally recognized for their work, not enough is being done by local governments.
Sources & Materials

(2) Machava, Ricardo. “Tragédia De Hulene Podia Ter Sido Evitada.” O PAÍS, 19 Feb. 2018.
[click to view]

(8) O País. “Hulene Dump: Four Months after the Tragedy.” Club of Mozambique, 28 June 2018.
[click to view]

(9) Da Silva, Romeu. “Famílias Ainda à Espera De Casas Um Ano Após Tragédia De Hulene: DW: 18.02.2019.” DW.COM, Deutsche Welle, 18 Feb. 2019.
[click to view]

(3) “Encerramento Da Lixeira De Hulene Que Desabou Custa 89,3 Milhões.” Diário De Notícias, Global Media Group, 23 Feb. 2018.
[click to view]

(4) Matias, Leonel. “Moçambique: Centenas Marcham Contra Lixeiras a Céu Aberto: DW: 30.06.2018.” DW.COM, Deutsche Welle, 30 June 2018.
[click to view]

(5) Moshenberg, Daniel. “Women Bear the Brunt of Africa's Urban Disasters, Such as the Collapse of Landfills.” The Conversation, 18 May 2019.
[click to view]

(6) AIM. “Closure of the Hulene Dump to Be Announced within 60 Days - Minister.” Club of Mozambique, Adrian Frey, 26 Feb. 2018.
[click to view]

(10) Mwitu, Cornelius. “Lixeira De Hulene ‘Ganha’ Mais Tempo De Vida.” O PAÍS, 27 Feb. 2019.
[click to view]

(7) Miramar/TVM. “The New Garbage Dump to Replace Hulene - Watch.” Club of Mozambique, Adrian Frey, 16 Mar. 2018.
[click to view]

(1) Swingler, Shaun. “Living and Dying on a Rubbish Dump: the Landfill Collapse in Mozambique” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 Feb. 2018.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Construction will start by cleaning the new space that will host the new landfill, located in the municipality of Matola in the neighborhood of Matlemele and Muhalaze. However 21 native families will be compensated in this process.
[click to view]

For construction of Matlemele landfill City Council resettles families
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rickie Cleere, University of Bayreuth - ICTA, [email protected]
Last update29/09/2019
Conflict ID:4750
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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