10.2.2  Communal open dumping

This method is practised in many small and medium-sized towns in Ethiopia. A convenient area of land near the town is identified, frequently in a valley or a natural depression in the ground. Waste is then deposited at the site and gradually accumulates over time. At their worst, these sites have no barrier to keep out animals, there is no equipment to move or compact the waste, no environmental control measures, and no site staff. (Compacting means reducing the volume occupied by landfilled waste by pressing down on it, usually by driving over it with a tractor or other heavy vehicle.)

Open dumping can be an effective way of isolating waste from people, but adverse effects can emerge in the long run, such as:

  • There is no barrier between the waste and the ground below so leachate can contaminate groundwater and surface waters.
  • The areas selected for such sites are often some distance from the community and not accessible to carts and other wheeled transport. This means that the waste must be carried to the site, which is time-consuming. Some people will be tempted to dispose of waste indiscriminately rather than walk all the way to the site.
  • Unless the site is well looked after (which is unlikely), waste can be blown off the surface by the wind and the exposed waste may attract flies, rodents, dogs, hyenas and birds.
  • Finally, if the waste is deposited in a normally dry valley, flooding can occur in the event of unexpected heavy rain. The rainwater will become contaminated with leachate and with waste items such as plastics.

10.2.1  Indiscriminate waste disposal

10.2.3  Burial in a pit