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Children and adults scavenge for usable items in and around a garbage truck at the Trutier dump outside Port-au-Prince, the capital. The number of scavengers at the landfill has grown from about 200 to an estimated 2,000 since the earthquake, due to increased unemployment in the quake’s aftermath. “People need to find a way to support themselves and their families. They have no [other] option,” said the landfill’s chief engineer, Carl Henry Vielot. A 16-year-old boy scavenger added, “I collect cans. Today, I didn’t find any. There are too many people trying to get them.”
UNICEF has rented and purchased trucks for the removal and disposal of waste from portable toilets throughout the city and is working with DINEPA, the national water and sanitation authority, and with MSB, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, to create environmentally improved waste disposal sites. The Trutier landfill is currently the only legal disposal site for the entire city’s garbage, and the area allocated for excreta disposal is insufficient. Because the city has a very low water table, disposal of human waste here, combined with illegal waste disposal into rivers and canals, is probably contaminating natural underground water resources.
© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0381/Shehzad Noorani