A mountain of garbage that had accumulated in "koshe" gave way to a land slide that resulted in dozens being killed. People that were living in the area in shelters and makeshift homes were buried under the garbage and lost their lives. The issue shines a light on a recurring problem the city has of disposing of waste that begs a solution.
Many had lived in the area filled with trash and had made their save havens under the trash building some shelters where they unfortunately died under during the disaster of the land fill slide. The sad incident has made headline news all around the world including the Washington Post.
Diriba Kuma, Mayor of Addis Abeba, visited the site and disclosed to reporters that the number of casualties has reached 43, while the effort to save others is on-going and that the search is being assisted with the appropriate equipment. But now, the death toll is climbing to the hundreds.
The efforts did not stop at coordinating the search for more people, dead or alive. He also stated that organized teams have been deployed to search in other places. The search is to locate those that are living in the neighborhood and move them away to safer places.
The team is also trained to give first aid assistance, food, water and clothing. Some health care professionals such as psychologists have also been called upon to offer therapy to those that have been affected by the tragedy and have lost family and friends.
About a year or two ago the concerned officials had spent quite a huge amount of their budget to prepare a new site for another land fill a couple of kilometers away to the eastern part of the capital. But the new project had faced resistance by the people living by the new land fill site. And it never really took off.
As a result, the capital had to resort back to its old land fill. The land fill also known as “koshe”, is a short form of the Amharic word “koshasha” which means trash.
The problem of trash accumulation has reached the breaking point, the challenge of how to solve the problem still plagues the country. Until a permanent solution is found to dispose waste effectively, this problem will not go away. If efforts to find a new land fill site does not work, perhaps it is time to turn to the methane gas production from the over filled “koshe” as it was reported and much talked about as one of the agendas.
Recycling projects are being practiced globally. The government seems to have considered this option somehow, with some guidelines in place to facilitate recycling in the country. For this to happen the city’s garbage collecting trucks can have an in-built crashing system to condense the trash. Garbage can also be sorted out and deposited at every individual’s doorsteps.
People could start using black plastic bags to sort out their trash. Collecting plastic bags and plastic bottles separately and used bottles separately. The cardboards and anything made of paper can be placed in white plastic bags, along with onion peals, fruit peals and other garbage.
Even if these plastic bags are not available or too expensive, the garbage collecting wheel barrows operated by men or women can help a lot in these activities. Every wereda or District can have collecting boxes well-kept and fenced properly so that it is protected from the community and stray dogs.
Sorting trash and making good use of it by recycling methods is probably the best option left if the city officials are not able to find another land fill site. Trying to relocate a land fill site in no easy task as demonstrated by the attempt that resulted in the community living in the area opposing the idea.
But the migration of people to the capital city from different regions continues. Day by the day the growing number of people is going to pose problems of sanitation and the problem can go from bad to worse.
Dry garbage is not the only issue. The water supply and the sanitation system at the Addis Abeba Stadium was another sanitation issue uncovered recently.
The main stream media and some other private FM Radios are heard expressing their sorrow and paying tributes to the victims of the land fill disaster. The issue at stake has brought to light a serious issue that needs attention. A country that claims to be transforming and is focused on growth cannot afford to have such an embarrassing incident happen. In a race to be one of the middle income countries soon, it first needs to clean up the garbage in its capital city.
In 2014, Addis Abeba was classified as one of the top filthiest cities globally due to its high levels of water pollution. This should have been a wake-up call for the country and those in charge of overlooking the issue.
The focus of high officials, such as the Mayor of the city should be on keeping the city as clean as possible so that accidents like these do not take place. That should be of priority and one of the evaluating points.
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