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


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.

There has been an ongoing discussion about the closure of Mbeubeuss landfill for many years. At stake is the generation of private profits from the management of waste. Foreign investment interests, mainly coordinated under the World Bank programs, have been proposing and influencing the Senegalese government. Already in 2005, a report from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (part of the World Bank) proposed the privatization of Mbeubeuss’ waste for the creation of a gas capture technology to generate electricity. The funds would have been provided through the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism but the project never materialized. By 2009, the closure of the Mbeubeuss landfill became conditionality for the relocation of the 3,000 households near Pikine, being displaced for the construction of a highway between Dakar and Diamniadio. The chosen relocation area was just two kilometers away from Mbeubeuss. The Senegalese government’s creditors (mainly the International Development Association, part of the World Bank Group) for the highway project were pressuring for the landfill closure. The World Bank was proposing to open a new site that would have only generated 300 jobs and where salaries would have been lower than the current earned revenues at Mbeubess.

The waste pickers defended their self-employment and mobilized through Bokk Diom and with the help of ENDA to oppose the project. As a result, the situation of the landfill remains still the same, open and managed by the informal waste pickers. Besides the World Bank and its associated programs, also other development agencies, such as the Canadian agency IDRC advocated for the closure of Mbeubeuss for sanitarian and environmental reasons. The agency funded the project “Pure” from 2006 to 2011 during which it monitored the social, health, and environmental impacts of the landfill on the living communities, the farmers and vegetable growers from Malika but also Diamalaye and Njagoo neighborhoods. These impacts should not be undermined, but the waste pickers fight for bottom-up mitigation solutions for the landfill impacts which takes into consideration their perspectives and needs, instead of a managerial, imposed perspective whose aim would be to foster private and foreign profits. They fiercely defend their source of livelihood. The involvement of international and foreign institutions is not necessarily going against the waste pickers’ will. For instance, Bokk Diom has set up a school for the children of the dump with financial help from European organizations (French Agence Francaise du Developpement, the Luxembourg Agency for Development and the Belgian Ministry for Cooperation). The waste pickers also obtained funds from the United Nations Development Program to construct a medical center and the International Labor Organization has trained youth from the dump in other professions such as carpenter or baker. Security issues remain recurrent in the landfill and put at risk the lives of more than 400 waste pickers living inside the site.

The most recent tragedies happened in December 2016 when a massive fire - the so-far largest ever recorded at the landfill - killed three people. This also caused economic damage to the community as many waste pickers lost tons of recycled waste. Another fire happened in March 2017. After these tragedies, the public authorities committed to proposing a new study on the possibilities of the future of the landfill, expected by June 2017. In February 2018, another massive fire broke out at the Mbeubeuss landfill, destroying stored recycled waste, shelters, and most notably, the facilities of a small recycling business run by one of the founders of Bokk Diom, who started as a waste picker in the 1970s and now employed 75 people. This induced the association to stronger mobilize for on-site improvements at Mbeubeuss and also a crowdfunding campaign was started.

As of 2019/20, Mbeubeuss landfill is frequented by 4,000 waste pickers that are members of Bokk Diom and pay an annual union fee and even more who are not, and extends over an area of 175 hectares. The situation at the landfill was recently described by media as “out of control” and “an ecological and sanitary bomb”. While the waste picker community continues to face dangerous working conditions, insecurity, and a lack of social and health protection, also locals suffer from the adverse impacts of uncontrolled dumping. In December 2019, a group of nearby residents called ‘Mbeubeuss Dafa Doy’ (from the Malika, Yeumbeul Nord et Sud, Keur Massar, and Tivaouane Peul communities) staged protests and criticized the misinformation by and inaction of public authorities, as the dump closure was already promised in 2012. The group demanded the relocation of the site and announced that, if necessary, they will proceed with the protests and block garbage trucks from entering the site.

In 2019, the organization WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment – Globalizing and Organizing) together with the ILO launched a project to improve conditions for the waste pickers of Mbeubeuss and strengthen their organizing in a cooperative. The cooperation was started with a two-day workshop that brought together informal waste pickers, leaders of Bokk Diom, and several institutions involved in waste management. WIEGO, as part of its Focal Cities initiative, has been working with informal workers across the city and among others initiated a project to improve the position of informal women waste pickers, including elderly, who are unlikely to find formal employment. They provided training in cooperative management and the strengthening of women’s worker identity. It supported the women’s cooperative ‘AVER-B’ that brings together street vendors, domestic workers, waste pickers, and informal food manufacturers in marketing their products. Bokk Diom, which to 60 percent of women, now also has a Women’s Recycling Committee that aims to strengthen women’s rights at Mbeubeuss landfill.

Most recently, new plans to modernize, rehabilitate and enclose the Mbeubeuss landfill were pushed forward by international institutions. In 2020, the Senegalese government received a new $US 125 loan from the International Development Association (IDA), a World Bank subsidiary, to modernize waste management in several cities. According to the plans, a public-private partnership should be established in Mbeubeuss to establish a waste treatment and disposal system in several phases. This would, first, include emergency measures to ensure safety at the site and prevent the entering of unauthorized persons. Later on, the site should become remodeled and optimized, including the installing of a leachate treatment system and a recycling center, in which former waste pickers would become employed.

The year 2020 brought the so far most visible mobilization of waste pickers in Dakar, as waste pickers of the Bokk Diom association held a silent demonstration march on the Global Waste Pickers Day, 1st of march, to commemorate the struggle of informal waste pickers around the globe. They also held a press conference in which they presented a memorandum with a counter-proposal to the new Mbeubeuss landfill modernization project. This, most notably, concerns a higher number of waste pickers to become part of the new landfill project and the creation of further opportunities to include waste pickers in municipal waste management.


En Francais --- Les problèmes concernant la décharge de Mbeubeuss sont multiples et complexes à résoudre. Mbeubeuss est un moyen de subsistance pour les recycleurs informels, une des populations les plus pauvres de la banlieue de Dakar, alors que qu’en même temps la décharge en plein air provoque une forte contamination de l'air et du sol dans le district de Malika où vivent plus de 17 000 personnes. La communauté des recycleurs est constituée par des jeunes incapables de trouver un emploi à Dakar. Mbeubeuss se trouve à seulement 27 km de la capitale. La décharge représente leur dernière chance de gagner de quoi vivre. Les 4.000 recycleurs informels défendent vigoureusement leur source de revenus, même si celle-ci met leur santé et leur vie en danger. La communauté de recycleurs est marginalisée et discriminée dans la société sénégalaise. Elle s’est organisée avec la création du Bokk Diom à la fin des années 1990, lorsque le gouvernement a tenté de les évincer du site. Ils ont alors été formellement reconnus par le gouvernement. Bokk Diom continue de lutter contre leur discrimination, pour leur reconnaissance, leur cohésion et leurs droits sociaux. La discussion de la fermeture de Mbeubeuss se poursuit depuis plusieurs années. Les investissements étrangers, principalement coordonnés par des programmes dépendant de la Banque Mondiale, proposent et influencent le gouvernement sénégalais. Ce qui intéresse ces investissements ce sont les profits qui seraient générés par une gestion privée des déchets. Déjà en 2005, un rapport du Programme d'Aide à la Gestion du Secteur de l'Energie (membre de la Banque mondiale) a proposé la privatisation des déchets de Mbeubeuss pour la capture de gaz afin de produire de l'électricité. Les financements auraient été fournis par le Mécanisme de Développement Propre de la CCNUCC. Mais le projet ne s'est jamais concrétisé. En 2009, la fermeture de la décharge de Mbeubeuss était une condition pour la relocalisation des 3 000 ménages près de Pikine, déplacés pour la construction d'une autoroute entre Dakar et Diamniadio. En effet, la zone choisie pour la réinstallation de ces familles était à 2 kilomètres de la décharge. Les créanciers du gouvernement sénégalais (principalement l'Association Internationale de Développement, groupe membre de la Banque Mondiale) pour le projet routier pressaient la fermeture du site Mbeubeuss. En contrepartie, la Banque Mondiale proposait d'ouvrir un nouveau site qui n'aurait généré que 300 emplois et dont les salaires auraient été inférieurs aux revenus actuellement gagnés par les recycleurs. Bokk Diom s’est mobilisé, avec l'aide d'ENDA pour s'opposer au projet. Les recycleurs ont vigoureusement défendu leur travail indépendant. En conséquence, la situation de la décharge demeure la même, gérée par les récupérateurs de déchets informels. Outre la Banque Mondiale et ses programmes associés, d'autres agences de développement, comme l'agence canadienne CRDI / CRDI, plaident en faveur de la fermeture de Mbeubeuss pour des raisons sanitaires et environnementales. L'agence a financé le projet «Pure» de 2006 à 2011, au cours duquel elle a surveillé les impacts sociaux, sanitaires et environnementaux de la décharge sur les communautés avoisinantes, sur les élevages de porc et la production de légumes à Malika et dans les quartiers de Diamalaye et Njagoo. Ces impacts ne devraient pas être ignorés, mais les recycleurs se battent pour défender des solutions d'atténuation de ces impacts qui tiennent compte de leurs points de vue et de leurs besoins, contre une perspective imposée par le haut dont l'objectif serait avant tout de favoriser le profit d’acteurs privés et étrangers. L’implication des Institutions Internationales et étrangères ne va pas nécessairement contre la volonté des recycleurs, au contraire certains acteurs collaborent avec la communauté de Mbeubeuss. Par exemple, Bokk Diom a mis en place une école pour les enfants de la décharge grâce à l'aide financière des organisations européennes (Agence française de développement, Agence luxembourgeoise pour le développement et Ministère belge de la coopération). Les récupérateurs de déchets ont également obtenu des fonds de la part du Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement afin de construire un centre médical et l'Organisation Internationale du Travail a formé les jeunes de la décharge à d'autres professions comme la boulangerie ou la menuiserie. Les problèmes de sécurité restent récurrents dans la décharge. Deux récentes tragédies ont eu lieu en décembre 2016 lorsqu'un incendie dans la décharge a tué trois personnes et en mars 2017 un autre incendie s'est produit. A la suite de ces tragédies, les autorités se sont engagées à proposer une nouvelle étude concernant l’avenir de Mbeubeuss. L’étude est  attendue pour juin 2017.

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.

---- En Francais ---- La décharge de Mbeubeuss fonctionne depuis 1968, voisine des banlieues densément peuplées de Dakar. On reçoit 450,000 tonnes de déchets par an. Le traitement des déchets est exclusivement fait par les recycleurs informels. Environ 10% des travailleurs sont des enfants (moins de 13 ans), 25% sont des femmes et 65% sont des hommes. En 2016, on estimait que plus de 1800 tonnes de déchets sont déversés quotidiennement par les camions provenant de Dakar. En juin 2017, est attendu une étude de faisabilité sur l'avenir du site, qui discutera de l'avenir du site. Sa clôture est discutée depuis de nombreuses années, mais il y a un manque de moyens pour la fermeture du site et un lieu pour ouvrir une nouvelle décharge n'a pas été trouvé.

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

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

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

Landfill Gas Capture Opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa, The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, 2005

Alice JUDELL, The (dis)Possession of Waste at the Mbeubeuss Dump in Dakar, 2012

Présentation du Project Dakar Diamniadio

Project toll highway Dakar-Diamniadio. Crédit IDA 4579 SN.

Association Bokk Diom des Récupérateurs et recycleurs de Mbeubeuss

L’Autoroute à péage Dakar - Diamniadio - Aibd, un véritable projet urbain avec plusieurs composantes.

Accessible Transport in Africa: The Dakar Diamniadio Toll Highway (DDTH) Pilot in Senegal

Hamadou Tidiane SY, La décharge de Mbeubeuss : creuset d'expériences, CRDI

Etude de faisabilité sur la délocalisation de Mbeubeuss - Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr donne des gages aux recycleurs, Décembre 2016

Globalrec, Association Book Diom des Récupérateurs et recycleurs de Mbeubeuss

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

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

Afrik21, SENEGAL: Mbeubeuss Landfill Rehabilitation Benefits from IDA Loan.


WIEGO, Project to help improve working conditions for Mbeubeuss waste pickers

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

Habitat International Coalition, Organizing as a tool for transformation for Women Informal Workers in Dakar.

Globalrec, Mobilizations Around the World for Global Waste Pickers Day 2020

ILO, A first step towards improving working conditions of waste pickers in Senegal.

The Nation, The Global Garbage Economy Begins (and Ends) in This Senegalese Dump.

Les gages d’Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr aux recycleurs, 29/03/2017

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Jenna Harvey, Fire at Mbeubeuss.

La décharge de Dakar, Mbeubeuss, Aout 2012, Video en français

Décharge de Mbeubeuss : la plaie nourricière de Dakar, 15/02/2016

Raffaele Urselli, Dakar landfill and the wastepickers Social production of value, urban subalternity and work ethics, Pdf Presentation

Mbeubeuss, la décharge de Dakar, 17 minutes Film en Francais

Meta information

Contributor:Camila Rolando Mazzuca; Update: Max Stoisser
Last update27/05/2020
Conflict ID:2859



Since the 1990s, waste pickers of Mbeubeuss have organized in the Bokk Diom association


Waste pickers at a silent march on the Global Waste Pickers Day 2020


A waste picker at Mbeubeuss landfill in 2016

(Photo credit: Xaume Oleros, Anadolu Agency)

Arriving garbage at Mbeubeuss, West Africa's largest open dumpsite

(Photo credit: Madjiguene Seck, World Bank)

Also the residents around Mbeubeuss protested - against the landfill


Mbeubeuss in flames in 2018

(Photo credit: Jenna Harvey and Grabriella Tanvé)

Most recently, the wasteland extended over an area of 175 hectares and was frequented by 4,000 wastepickers


A waste picker from Mbeubeuss in a 2019 cooperative-building workshop organized by WIEGO and the ILO


Before and after the 2018 fire, which destroyed tons of recycled material

(Photo credit: Jenna Harvey and Grabriella Tanvé)

Coura Ndiaye has been working in Mbeubeuss for over 40 years and is one of the women waste picker leaders

(Habitat International Coalition)