The Ranadi Landfill (dumpsite) in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Managed by the Honiara City Council (the government) and fed with there-unrecyclable and unmanaged waste (many of which were used to sell utmost unhealthy food items) by the Chinese community

Last modified: 
5/5/2016

Show me your waste and I will tell you who you are

In my home country Belgium, some years ago, I used to be fascinated by an anarchist who I sometimes encountered scavenging parts of the domestic garbage when put out on the streets at night for collection. Talking to that anarchist (who I admired for his inquisitive nature and peculiar activities), I discovered that he was actually not on the look-out for food or materially valuable items other than books and papers; he was only interested in the separated paper trash. He was trying to understand the citizens whose garbage was put out on the streets, and more specifically he was trying to discover illegal or dubious activities recorded in paper.

I was studying philosophy at that time. I wonder who of us actually learned the most about human behavior. The anarchist told me (or perhaps we spoke about it together) that one can discover a lot about people by looking at their trash.

I still agree on this, and therefor looking at the Ranadi Landfill (the only by-the-government-organized dumpsite in the capital Honiara) might makes us understand what type of a country the Solomon Islands currently has become.

This should be the number 1 must-see touristic hot-spot in Honiara

Slideshow of images. Hover over the photo to reveal navigation arrows (but in order for the arrows to appear, first wait until this webpage is fully loaded):
The Ranadi Landfill (dumpsite) in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Managed by the Honiara City Council (the government) and fed with there-unrecyclable waste (many of which were used to sell utmost unhealthy food items) by the Chinese community

A couple scavenging:


A man and a young boy scavenging:


Overview of the work-place for scavengers:

Background information. What are the Solomons?

  • Are there children playing on the landfill? Yes.
  • Are there children scavenging for items on the landfill? Yes.
  • Are many of them not wearing shoes? Yes.
  • Is medical waste and carcinogenic asbestos being buried in the landfill? Yes.12
  • Is the trash at the landfill being burned in open-air, releasing highly toxic fumes? Yes.
  • Do multiple people live almost on the landfill, with just a few meters between their wooden houses and the piles of burning waste, without anything in between to protect them from toxic leakage and burning fumes? Yes.
  • Do they, their animals, and their kids breathe in the toxic fumes? Yes.
  • Is a lot of the trash coming from Chinese who want to make a profit in a developing country by selling unhealthy food items and other low quality products? Yes.
  • Is it known by the avaricious Chinese that there is no waste management in the Solomons? Yes.
  • Do the Chinese pay their workers low wage from which it is difficult to buy even a healthy diet in Honiara, while the Chinese themselves keep the profit to pay for their children's high-quality education, their own holidays and housing in Australia? Yes.3
  • Is the Ranadi Landfill only a few hundred meters away from the sea, and thus leaking into it? Yes.
  • Are there people drinking ground water a few 100 meters away from the landfill? Yes.
  • Are there food scraps dumped on the landfill, and is it filled with flies and other insects? Are children reportedly eating from those scraps (both local people as well as Chinese business people affirmed me this)? Yes.
  • In Honiara, is the most widely used alternative to filling the Ranadi Landfill, to leave trash on the land or waters, or to burn it in open-air? Yes.
  • Does the (corrupt) government, NGO's and international aid agencies allow the plastic industry to continue destroying the health of the people and the country's ecosystem in the ways described above? Yes.
  • Do they only in a pedantic and childish way promote people to put their rubbish in a bin, while failing to communicate any awareness about the root and extent of the problem? Yes.
  • Do strewn plastics and waste create breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes? Yes.4 In fact, a 2013 source explains: Gizo’s dengue hot-spot is located in a settlement adjacent to the town’s rubbish dump – a foetid landfill site where tractor-trailers dump the town’s waste each day. Fresh rains have turned the area into a stinking swamp, creating a perfect breeding ground for the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes that carry the disease.5
  • Is the Chinese Association heavily organizing burning of their toxic waste in Chinatown and at Chung Wah School, of which the Chinese Association is the responsible authority? Yes.

The devastating environment-related disease burden in South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions, mostly attributed to air pollution (directly linked to killing Solomon Islanders)

Please consider the following March 2016 press release from a WHO report: An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments

[...] An estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths, according to new estimates from WHO. Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries.

[...] Regionally, the report finds, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest environment-related disease burden in 2012, with a total of 7.3 million deaths, most attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution.6
Solomon Islanders are being killed (for the profits of the elite) by newly created unhealthy environments, of which the burning of toxic waste (much of it coming from unhealthy food items which is sickening the population with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes) is a heavy contributor.

Who will be made responsible?

When will plastic bags be replaced by recyclable ones?

Footnotes

  • 1. Here below, once can find the full information about the landfill (in the article "Using the Land fill (dumpsite)", provided by the Honiara City Council's website): The Honiara City Council manages the Ranadi Landfill, which is to be used during the day Monday to Friday. When disposing waste, follow the instructions of the two Officers at the dumpsite who will instruct you where and how to dispose of your rubbish. You are expected to follow their instructions and cooperate responsibly, to make sure we have safe disposal of waste. The Landfill is currently under rehabilitation where the Council is improving the management and disposal at the dumpsite. The information displayed on this page is the base functions of the dumpsite, which will continued to be improved under the rehabilitation.

    General waste Plastic/Glass bottles and metal-cans should be recycled by a business or the supplier if possible. Otherwise they are to be disposed in the general waste area. Plastics, glass, construction waste material and all other solid waste materials are to be disposed in a general disposal cell area. For expired food goods, please contact the Environmental Health Division at 28295 for instruction.

    Organic (plant) waste Organic waste that can be put in a compost should not be taken to the dumpsite. The dumpsite has too much organic waste that can be composted at home, which is slowing down our services. The materials that can be composted are:
    • Plant waste – banana peels, cabbage, dry coconut gratings, rice.
    • Egg shells (these take a long time to compost).
    • Grass clippings, plants, leaves.
    • Saw dust from cutting wood.
    • Manure – Kokorako, bats or any other vegetarian animal waste.
    Animal meat or bones, or the manure of a meat-eating animal is not to be composted. Copra waste is not accepted in the Landfill because it is flammable and can cause a health hazard.

    Hazardous materials Asbestos is to be wrapped properly in plastic and buried in the allocated area. Contact the Landfill Supervisor for disposal instructions at 27545. Sewage is to be disposed at the designated site. Follow the instructions of the Landfill Officers or call the Landfill Supervisor at 27545.

    Healthcare waste Healthcare waste is to be burned in the Healthcare waste pit. Since we do not have incinerator for medical waste, we are currently temporarily using a open pit for hazardous waste such as medical waste. You must put a tyre in the pit and then put your medical waste on top, and then light the waste on fire in the open pit. It is better to bring waste tyres if they have them or look round the dumpsite. It is the responsibility of the person disposing the rubbish to monitor the fire until it has completely died and water is poured on the ashes. General waste (non-medical) from the hospital or a clinic should not be burned in the Healthcare waste pit.

    Bulky (large) Waste Before you dispose bulky waste at the Landfill, it is advisable to contact the Landfill Supervisor at 27545 for instructions on safe and proper disposal. Incorrect disposal can become a hazard and/or slow down the service delivery of the Council. Bulky waste can include:
    • End of life vehicle bodies
    • Waste tyres
    • Saw dust or soil
    • Copra waste is not accepted as it is a fire hazard.

    For more information on how to use the landfill, contact the HCC Works Division at 27545.
    http://www.honiaraci..., Honiara City Council, Using the Land fill (dumpsite), at 22/3/2016
  • 2. Some additional information on natural asbestos sources in Solomon Islands:
    • Non-renewable resources [...] There have been surveys of [...] deposits of asbestos at Kumboro, [...]https://portals.iucn... / https://webcache.goo..., ENVIRONMENTAL SYNOPSIS. SOLOMON ISLANDS, UICN (The worl Conservation Union), This Environemntal Synopsis was produced in collaboration with the Commission of the European Communities under contract 7-5040/91/28, 1993, p. 17

    • See also:

      ▸ R. B Thomspon, Asbestos: Some chrysotile concentrations on San Jorge Islands, 1959 (Report / British Solomon Islands. Geological survey), 1965

    For further information on presence of health hazards regarding commercially processed asbestos in Solomon Islands, as well as efforts to prevent those hazards, see e.g.:
    • Asbestos in the Pacific The presence of asbestos containing building materials has been widely reported across the Pacific in countries such as the Cooks Islands, Nauru, Niue, Tonga and the Solomon Islands. Older, weathered buildings and unmanaged waste stockpiles containing asbestos are a potential risk to human health, while natural events such as cyclones compound the problem, as they destroy or damage buildings with asbestos containing materials.https://www.sprep.or..., Amber Carvan, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme [SPREP] [PROE] [European Union] [PacWaste. Pacific Hazardous Waste Management], at 25 March 2016
    • Asbestos removal from the road-side through the joint effort of the Public Works Department and the Hospital continues in Gizo as well as Choiseul. UNICEF is currently producing communication materials for children and parents on the dangers of asbestos. A WHO consultant arrived June 6 to formulate a broad approach to the issue and funding is being sought from a variety of donors to support this plan.http://www.unicef.or..., UNICEF Situation Report Solomon Islands - External 11 June 2007
    • Regional Treaties and Conventions The Waigani Convention, also known as the Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region opened for signature in Waigani, Papua New Guinea in 1995 and entered into force in 2001. [...] The Convention is open to all Pacific Island Forum countries. Currently, there are 13 Parties: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. France, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom and the United States are eligible to join the convention but have not yet done so.http://www.tandfonli..., Annette M. David, Hisashi Ogawa, Ken Takahashi, A BASELINE PROFILE OF ASBESTOS IN THE US-AFFILIATED PACIFIC ISLANDS, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 18 (1), 2012
  • 3. At least from my own experience with the Chinese businessmen whom I knew best. This situation has to be nuanced though: it is known that some other Chinese laborers are being heavily exploited by certain Chinese tradestore owners (this was confirmed by the Chairman of the Chinese Association Matthew Quan, who told me that such is currently happening in Chinatown). Their workers aren't even given pay for reportedly periods of 1 year or longer. Those workers are very poor immigrants which enjoy no freedom at all and live in fear.
  • 4. Professor Steve Lindsay, a public-health entomologist at the University of Durham, explains: [...] the growth in the population of aegypti is down to our rapid increase in plastic consumption; it provides the mosquitos with an ideal breeding ground.

    "There is so much misinformation out there," Lindsay says. "You see pictures of large open areas of stagnant water. But that’s not where the danger is. This thing breeds in small containers: flowerpots, gutters, tyres, water bottles. [...]"
    ▸ Archie Bland, http://www.theguardi..., Should we wipe mosquitoes off the face of the Earth?, The Guardian, 10/2/2016
  • 5.http://www.ifrc.org/..., Patrick Fuller [IFRC], Curbing the menace of dengue in the Solomon Islands, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies [IFRC], 3/7/2013, at 25/3/2016
  • 6.http://www.who.int/m..., An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments [News Release], WHO [World Health Organization], 15/3/2016, Geneva

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