A year or so ago, I was listening to my iPod in an auto-rickshaw when I heard this song by Jimmy Cliff. I felt it resonated with some of the sad sights around me, and I often left it on repeat. Eventually I decided to make a video. This one will be followed by a second, again featuring Jimmy Cliff – “Wonderful World, Beautiful People.” This video presents one side of Bangladesh in 2012, but it’s important not to just leave it at that. But I do hope it conveys the levels of suffering many Bangladeshis face on a daily basis. Development in almost every sector is critical.
Four thousand tonnes of waste are deposited at Matuail Landfill in the southern outskirts of Bangladesh’s teeming capital every day. Matuail is the largest waste site in Dhaka as it is responsible for 65 percent of the total waste generated. However, according to a 15 month study conducted in 2003 by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), only 44 percent of all waste generated is collected. That means that 1,200 tonnes of garbage swamps Dhaka’s public places every day. When garbage is illegally deposited into waterways, the fisherman lose their livelihood; and the fish, their habitat.
JICA’s urged Dhaka City Corporation, a self-governing corporation that is associated with the task of running the affairs of the city since 1864, to increase the scope of its waste maintenance facilities in order to combat the odour, drain clogging, pollution and mosquitoes that afflicts many parts of Dhaka. Last week the State Minister for Environment and Forests Dr Hasan Mahmud announced that two household waste management projects will begin in early 2011 on a pilot basis.
These photographs depict the tough conditions faced by waste management workers at Matuail Landfill. Each worker earns around Tk 150 (US$2) per day.