waste problem in haiti
Haiti is progressively becoming overrun with mountains of waste in the streets because there is absolutely nowhere to put it.

The trash and waste problem in Haiti is an ongoing nightmare for the people living there, with garbage filling the streets. Haiti has few landfills or dumpsters, and there is no apparent place to dispose of its increasing volume of waste.

The problem peaked in 2012, and imported plastic products were banned. These products were blocking drains and paths and clogging the streets so badly that there was flooding.

This flooding problem subsequently destroyed businesses, homes and other property. Stagnant water posed a serious health issue in the most impoverished areas; it allowed mosquitos to flourish and disease to spread.

The smell of the garbage and the poor overall appearance of Haiti (most specifically the capital, Port-Au-Prince) have destroyed the economy and led to extreme decreases in tourism.

In addition to being odorous and detrimental to tourism, decaying waste produces methane gas. When inhaled, this gas can cause serious long-term lung, heart and brain defects.

Most disturbingly, a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also predicts that waste-generation rates will more than double over the next 20 years in lower-income countries like Haiti, where trash is already so abundant that people have to climb over or wade through it to get anywhere.

This means that the number of people migrating to urban cities such as Port-au-Prince will increase — a population spike that will manifest itself in the production of a proportionate amount of litter in the streets. This transition will require employment of a vital, comprehensive national management plan.

The most logical step to rid cities like Port-Au-Prince in Haiti of waste is recycling.

Volunteers and organizations in Haiti can gather the waste from the streets and exchange the plastics, papers, etc., for cash to help private businesses overseas. In turn, the waste can also be turned into functional packaging for the future use of Haitian companies.

This means Haitians in impoverished areas can exchange their waste both for profit and cleaner streets that will not flood or draw disease-ridden mosquitoes.

Citizens who take the time to make the streets a little cleaner can often make about $52 a week. This is not a bad wage, considering many of the people in Haiti can live off $1 a day. Their aid in cleaning the city will also help eliminate major disease and illness factors in the area.

A plan has been put in place to get more volunteers to join the fight to rid Haiti of waste before its urban areas become overpopulated. The country’s impoverished people can improve their streets, communities, environment and national economy by simply recycling waste products.

– Cara Morgan

Sources: Aid Volunteers, The Guardian
Photo: Idea Peepshow