Kurdish Poor turn to Scavenging at Local Dumps

Hundreds of rubbish trucks visit the dump to make deposits, the authorities say they have 1,500 rubbish collectors working in the province collecting around 1,200 tonnes of rubbish per day and there are six bulldozers operating inside the dump. The scavengers need to be at the dump around the same time as the trucks arrive but they try to leave before the bulldozers and other workers begin compacting the waste.

“It’s not an easy job,” Yusuf told NIQASH. “You always get sick here. And you also worry about being run over by the vehicles or machines that work in the dump.”

“There is also the danger of sinking into the piles of garbage,” adds Nayan, a 30-year-old mother of three, who comes here every day with her husband to scavenge for saleable items.

The local authorities confirm that sometimes the scavengers are hurt or even killed by the vehicles and machinery working in the dump.

“In the 1990s two of the rubbish collectors were killed by bulldozers on the site,” says Rizkah Ahmad, an employee working for the municipality. “We offered the others jobs as official cleaners for the province but they refused because the pay is very low. In the past we tried to prevent people from coming into the dump to scavenge but given the economic conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan at the moment, we can’t really stop them,” he conceded.

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