Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the dumps

This is kind of a follow up on my 'FOOD FOR THOUGHT' blogpost, looking at people who go to extreme measures to find food. This is usually done under extreme circumstances and in dirty, swampy spaces. La Chureca is one of these battlegrounds. It is known as the largest garbage dump in Central America. It is situated on the banks of the capital of Nicaragua. 

This vast dumping ground, which spreads 70 acres, has been a space of accumulated garbage since 1975 and contains 5 million tons of waste. There is no recycling or seperation of garbage that takes place, everything is dumped together. That is inorganic waste, food, dead animals, cans, glass, metals, trash from demolitions, also infectious biowaste. La Chureca is the only wasteland in Central America that also contains solid waste. That is waste brought there from hospitals, such as dead bodies, limbs, remains from surgery, etc. 

Nicaragua is the poorest country of Central America. Hundreds of human waste recyclers search in tons of smouldering garbage mainly metals (copper, aluminium, bronze), others concentrate on glass which is cheap, but in bigger amount. To put this in perspective, selling 20-30kg of glass will buy you one meal on the streets of Nicaragua. Many children search here for food daily, in an effort to help provide for their families. This is their normal way of life. The children very often eat the food they find on the dump, none of them goes to school. Many of them sniff glue, the drug of the poorest.

40 per cent of these 'scavengers' have cutaneous (skin) diseases and more than a half of the children have parasites in their intestines.

Photos by Jon Sochor, Life of a Scavenger

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