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close this bookOutreach N° 94 - Waste - Part 4: What to do about Hazardous Waste (OUTREACH - UNEP - WWF, 34 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOUTREACH information packs
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentLocation map
View the documentHow to use OUTREACH packs
View the documentHow to use this OUTREACH pack
View the documentQuestions and answers: Hazardous waste
View the documentClass activity: Bike and bike products
View the documentNews brief: European waste wraps Pakistani sweets
View the documentNews brief: Indonesia's scavengers seek ban on waste imports
View the documentActivity: Hazardous waste on the Mexico-US border
View the documentArticle: Plastics: trashing the Third World
View the documentPuzzle: A junk trap!
View the documentArticle: Deadly litter chokes livestock
View the documentFiction: Adventures of Ranger Rick: Rick and the gang learn about a trashy problem
View the documentArticle and class/group activities: The Basel Convention
View the documentArticle: Keeping tabs on toxics
View the documentChart: Household products: potential hazards
View the documentActivities: What to do with hazardous waste
View the documentPuzzle: Odd one out
View the documentActivities: Use safer alternatives to house and garden ''toxics''
View the documentArticle: Mobilising against toxic waste
View the documentArticle: Oil spill!
View the documentClass/group activities: Cleaning up oil spills

Article: Deadly litter chokes livestock


Adapted from an article of the same name by A.Y. Artan in Panoscope No. 36 (July 1993), published by the Panos Institute, 9 White Lion Street, London N1 9PD, United Kingdom.

The material can be republished free of charge in developing countries with attribution to Panos.


Teachers: As background information for discussions on hazardous waste.

Journalists, Radio broadcasters: Use in articles/programmes to increase awareness of the dangers of waste to living things

In recent years Somalia has devastated by war and famine. Now the country is facing a new threat from a man-made pollutant that is killing livestock. Light-weight plastic bags are strewn around many desert areas and pasture lands, to the dismay of nomads and farmers.

The cheap and handy bags, imported from Europe and Saudi Arabia, are used by millions of people to carry food, liquids and other items. They have largely replaced locally-produced baskets. However, the bags do not last long, and are often carelessly thrown away. The wind blows them around until they get caught in trees, bushes and dry grass.

Bits of torn plastic of all colours now litter Somali towns, and are also spreading deep into the countryside, where they are a growing cause of death among animals. The animals eat the plastic along with the grass and leaves that have trapped the bags. Distraught nomads have examined their dead livestock, and found plastic blocking up the animals' intestines.

There is no sign of an end to this problem, as more and more bags are being imported. Few people realise the dangers of carelessly discarding the plastic-that it threatens to upset the precarious balance of nature in a country struggling to recover from other, bigger crises.