Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

Citizen waste pickers are tidying Port-au-Prince

A trash-clogged canal in Port-au-Prince (PAHO / WHO / flickr/cc)

The streets of Port-au-Prince and other Haitian cities are filled with trash — much of it plastic bottles, bags and packaging. A 2012 Haitian law that banned the import of polyethylene and polystyrene failed to improve the situation. The waste is not just an eyesore. It presents a health hazard by causing sewers to overflow in poor neighborhoods during storms.

Prospery Raymond writes in the Guardian that there’s an encouraging step in a program that compensates refugees from the devastating 2010 earthquake for collecting discarded plastic. The program is funded by government and the private sector. 

But Raymond, who is Haitian, wants the government to go further. More citizens would collect refuse if they were paid higher wages and formally employed via government centers, he insists. Most waste pickers currently earn the equivalent of $52 a week.

“I strongly urge the Haitian ministry of environment to devise a proper policy to manage Haiti’s waste and recycling industries better,” Raymond writes. He notes that 80 percent of plastic collected in Haiti is shipped to Asian countries, where demand is high for recyclable material. 


More from Citiscope

Latest Commentary