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Dhaka’s waste management considered a ‘humanitarian disaster’

Ending child labor and enhancing worker safety are among the challenges Dhaka faces in overhauling waste management. (changeorder/flickr/cc)

During Dhaka’s recent mayoral elections, candidates grabbed brooms and swept dusty streets to underscore their commitments to a cleaner city. Shahnawaz Khan writes for the Daily Star that in reality, improving waste management and ending related child labor abuses are daunting challenges.

With limited resources, the city relies on thousands of underpaid laborers to remove trash. The “worst part,” Khan says, is that thousands of children from slums assist with collection and disposal. With youngsters collecting refuse and scavenging for plastic bottles, the situation is a “humanitarian disaster” for Bangladesh, he writes.

Adult workers also face hazards, including the risk of being struck by vehicles as they sweep clogged roads, the article says. They rummage through refuse with bare hands, without protective gear. The dangers are compounded for trash pickers who handle medical waste without safety precautions.

Among other challenges, landfills are becoming overloaded and too few residents bother to recycle. Despite the hurdles, Khan emphasizes that waste management must be improved “to keep the city liveable in the near future.”

The Daily Star

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