|Handbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)|
|17. Environmental Sanitation|
· Improper garbage disposal increases the risk of insect and rodent-borne diseases, and an effective system must be established for the storage, collection and disposal of garbage;
· Garbage disposal areas must be designated and access to them restricted;
· Large amounts of dust can damage health. Preventing destruction of vegetation is the best preventative measure against dust.
53. The quantity of garbage generated by refugees is often not considered substantial and it therefore tends to be neglected. However, the daily amount of garbage as well as its weight can be significant, in market places in particular.
Uncontrolled accumulation of garbage is unhealthy, and promotes an increase in rodent and insect borne disease.
At the beginning of an emergency hygiene and waste disposal is usually poor, so vermin and other pests including rodents proliferate very rapidly.
54. Food is occasionally distributed to refugees in metal cans. How those are disposed of should be given particular consideration not only for aesthetic reasons but also because of health hazards (injuries to children, potential breeding sites for mosquitoes, etc.). In addition, this kind of garbage is far from biodegradable.
55. Medical waste (used syringes and needles, contaminated bandages, laboratory specimens, etc.) generated by health centres, are a hazard. Access to medical sanitary services should be well controlled, and the waste should be treated separately, without delay (see below).
The safe disposal of all medical waste requires particular attention.
There should be routines for the storage, collection and disposal of garbage - this will be particularly important in high-density sites.
56. Storage: metal drums can be used as refuse bins at individual dwelling level. A 200 litre drum cut in half is often used. Bins should have lids if possible and drainage holes in the bottom. A ratio of one container (100 I capacity) per 10 families has proved to be effective. The containers should be placed throughout the site in such a manner so that no dwelling is more than about 15 meters away from one. Using concrete structures as refuse bins is neither economical nor practical: they are difficult to empty properly so rodents are encouraged and garbage is dispersed around the area.
57. Collection and Transportation: garbage should be collected from the containers regularly, daily if possible. Camps near a city could benefit from existing refuse-dump services. Using tractors with trailers is expensive and should be considered as a last option and only for large and densely populated camps. Wheelbarrows and/or carts (hand or animal carried) are usually more appropriate.
58. Disposal and Treatment:
i. Sanitary land-filling (also known as controlled tipping) remains the most advisable method. Areas designated for burying garbage should be well away from dwellings, and fenced off;
ii. Incineration is justified on a small scale and usually only for medical waste. After each incineration, cover the waste with a layer of soil;
iii. Composting is an attractive option but requires technical knowledge, which may not be available. In addition, garbage must be sorted to produce good compost.
59. Large amounts of dust carried in the air can be harmful to human health by irritating eyes, respiratory system and skin, and by contaminating food. The best preventive measure is to stop the destruction of vegetation around the site. Dust can also be controlled by spraying roads with water or oil, especially around health facilities and feeding centres, and limiting or even banning traffic.