|Outreach N° 94 - Waste - Part 4: What to do about Hazardous Waste (OUTREACH - UNEP - WWF, 34 p.)|
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.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE
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.