GARBAGE DUMP COMMUNITIES
By the Numbers
The average life expectancy in these communities.
– National Autonomous University of Mexico
will die before reaching the age of 2.
– Hiroshi Shinomiya with UNESCO
15 million people
were estimated to live and work in garbage dump communities worldwide as of 2017. Reports have shown that this number is on the rise for 2019.
A carefully maintained structure built into or on top of the ground, where waste is disposed of through regulated, systematic burnings.
A place where garbage is dumped illegally and/or without the careful regulations of a landfill. Instead of being burned, garbage in garbage dumps is left to rot.
The dangers of garbage dumps
Garbage dumps are incredibly dangerous places to live and work, with dangers that we don’t think about in our day-to-day lives. The minority of deaths in garbage dumps are natural. Causes of danger and death include:
Methane gas buildup causing spontaneous combustion
Getting swallowed into garbage landslides and suffocating
Illness from contaminated food and water, toxic air, and lack of sanitation
Serious and/or gangrenous injury from glass or shrapnel
Being run over by garbage trucks/crushed by contents
Disease and disability caused by medical waste dumping
Gang violence and blackmail based on region
Trauma and mental illness related to severity of the conditions
Q: Why would someone live here?
A: Because they have no other choice.
- Garbage dumps are mostly inhabited by vulnerable populations, including those who face extreme poverty, severe illness and/or disability, and lack of educational opportunities.
- Garbage dumps are the only place in these areas where people can live for free and find items that they can keep for their families or sell for profit, which incentivizes vulnerable populations to stay there.
- In almost all garbage dumps, recycling garbage offers opportunities for small wages for those willing to filter through the contents – a wage that allows individuals and their families to survive, but not a high enough wage for them to leave.
Q: Why don’t the people here leave?
A: Because they can’t afford to.
- Families get trapped in a cycle of generational poverty because the wages offered by recycling are not high enough to cover even their most basic needs.
- Most garbage dump communities don’t have access to schools. Without access to formal education or jobs that offer enough money to relocate, those living in garbage dumps cannot afford to live or work elsewhere, or save money to invest in their futures.
- Living and working in the garbage dump often leads to sickness, disease, or serious injury, further trapping generations of families in the garbage dump.
The locations where international samaritan works
How you can help
International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.