The Hulene landfill is the largest and oldest open-air rubbish dump in Mozambique having been in existence for more than 40 years. It is located 7 km away from the city centre of Maputo and covers an area of 17ha in a heavily populated area.
On the 19th of February this year, 17 people were killed and 4 people seriously injured due to the collapsing mountain of garbage that buried several houses during the night on the Hulene landfill site. In total 134 people were affected being displaced from their homes and without means of survival.
Livaningo among other groups in the country have appealed to the Mozambican Government to close the Hulene landfill and adopt an appropriate system due to the depletion of the life of the site and the risks that the mountain of garbage could cause to nearby communities. Livaningo believes that “this is the result of the lack of responsibility that the Government has had to the warnings, appeals and demands that Livaningo has manifested continuously and untiringly during the last decades”.
Despite the government taking responsibility for the disaster, Justiça Ambiental will be seeking compensation for those who were affected by this. “In a few months everyone will forget about this and the people will be left without a fair compensation, as happen before in other cases so we will demand that the communities are compensated for their loss”, said Anabela Lemos. While there is a problem with how waste is being managed we have to be cautious about false solutions being identified to curb the issue, “we need to be careful about the many proposals of projects on waste to energy, and this should not be seen as justification for this”, said Lemos.
Waste to energy will be creating an even bigger issue than the one which currently faces the community of Hulene and further impact the livelihoods of waste pickers. While the operation of advanced systems of material recovery managed by municipalities is common in industrialized countries, in the Global South most recyclers are self-employed, mainly in the informal economy, and recover reusable and recyclable items. In this way, recycling provides livelihoods to 15 million people worldwide – 1% of the population in the Global South.