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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 17:04 GMT
Is Africa drowning in rubbish?
rubbish dump in Nigeria
Overflowing piles of rubbish caused most of last year's cholera outbreaks in Africa, according to the UN, but why are our streets so dirty?

In some towns, people have to pick their way through household waste, such as plastic bottles, papers, mouldy vegetables and human waste. Some people live on stinking rubbish dumps.

The health and environmental consequences are dire: dysentery and cholera spread through flies attracted to the stench of rubbish.

So, why is your street dirty? What do you want your government to do? How do you keep your streets clean? What do you think should be done with the rubbish? Are we recycling enough? Do you have a personal experience of living near to or on a rubbish dump?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

People in Morocco are generally not aware of the harm they cause when they throw away their rubbish on the streets. We also have the habit of eating sunflower seeds and other nuts which produce a lot of waste.
Moussa Aynan, Nador, Morocco

The problem is plastic bags which are so cheap to produce that they are given out free with all fruit and vegetables and then discarded on roadsides, the beach and the rivers. They clog up waterways, causing sewage problems and flooding, they hold stagnant water which encourages the breeding of mosquitoes and consequently, malaria, and they are eaten by wildlife. As one person wisely said, 'If the Romans had invented plastic bags 2000 years ago, we would still be living in their rubbish!' If Africa doesn't do something fast, the problem will escalate and future generations will suffer the short-sightedness of present generations.
Francine Last, Tanzania

One man's garbage is another man's treasure
Ayan, USA
I remember growing up with my siblings. We used to go through the rubbish hoping to find something valuable. We would find bottles and used them to store water. The thing was, we had nothing and the rubbish was our source of food and shelter. The saying goes "one man's garbage is another man's treasure."
Ayan, Somali in Seattle, USA

Our streets in Africa are dirty because of the irresponsible dumping of rubbish by the rapid growing population mainly in towns. People throw rubbish on the roadside without thinking of the implications. The government should provide dustbins on a subsidised fee and affordable by every household. I think every town council should collect money from every household as part of the contribution towards the purchase and maintenance of a rubbish collection vehicle.
Prossy Nannyombi, Entebbe, Uganda

Can someone please explain to me why people continue to throw rubbish on the streets instead of putting it in bins and bags? It does not serve any purpose nor save any money but it only makes the place dirtier and spreads disease. Could a rubbish-thrower please explain to me their reason for doing it?
Nick, Paris, France

There is a popular saying that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Keeping our streets clean is the duty of everyone in the society. While it the primary responsibility of the government to provide dumpsters where the citizens can put their trash in order to avoid disposing them indiscriminately, the citizen should do their part by disposing their trash properly
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

I do not agree that all African streets are dirty. I have visited some European countries and seen some dirty markets.
Muhoza Chiza, Mwanz, Tanzania

Most of our so-called cities are essentially vast urban rubbish dumps. I blame the so called "health ministers,"
UE, UK/Nigeria

I was born in Kenya, and I must agree that the garbage problem is escalating. In my view negligence on the part of the local council as well as the public who turn a blind eye to the rubbish has contributed to the situation. I feel that if one wants to find a solution to this issue, it will have to start with the people, even though the government tries to help, only the people can truly make a difference.
Alex Ndubai, Birmingham

Dirt, filth and rubbish used to be one of the synonyms for, the commercial hub of the nation, Lagos State. Administrations prior to the present one including military regimes, had tried several policies through acts and decrees to minimize the plague, but to no avail. The present Lagos state government's policy towards curbing the upsurge of rubbish is by engaging both private sector that are into waster management and the public waste management unit into clearing the rubbish at intervals. Unfortunately, the effort of the government is not yielding significant result
Olaoluwa Nelson, Lagos Nigeria

Hygiene and sanitation is scarcely on the agenda of African politicians
Morfaw Rene, Cameroon/Belgium
I think the high mountains of rubbish you find in the streets is due to the fact that the politicians are too rich and live in Mansions in the Nation's capitals. They are far removed from the man on the street who lives in the rubbish. Hygiene and sanitation is scarcely on the agenda of African politicians.
Morfaw Rene, Southern Cameroonian in Belgium

We owe a duty to future generations to Preserve the Global Environment and to make the world around us a better place in which to live. For many years while working as a District Scout leader in Kenya, I spoke on this issue to help protect the environment. The campaigns were very successful and the impact especially noticeable. This was part of the concerted efforts to raise environmental awareness and mobilize the larger community in preserving the environment for a better future. The students involved were especially challenged and rewarded by the community. We had a very interesting partnership with many Businesses and other NGOs including United Nations. We were able to perform campaigns by encouraging people to recycle waste, conserve water and clean up polluted areas. ".
Josephat Musyoka Mua, Kenya/USA

I grew up in Asmara, Eritrea and the capital is very clean. There are old ladies that getup early in the morning and sweep the main streets with a branch of a palm tree.
Mesfin, Eritrean in Oakland

As a teacher living in Ghana, you don't have to go far to see the excessive rubbish. The main river in Accra is simply full of rubbish, as are the street-side gutters around the city. The main problem seems to be the water sachets which everybody uses. There is definitely a culture whereby it is acceptable to drop litter - this is an attitude that needs to be changed before the authorities are to stand a chance at controlling Africa's litter problem.
Stuart Clapham, Accra, Ghana

NGO's and donors should continue to encouraging governments and the public not to dump rubbish or dirty materials near where human live. I saw this as a big problem when I visited Addis Ababa and Nairobi.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA

There is a popular saying that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Keeping our streets clean is the duty of everyone in society. While it is the primary responsibility of the government to provide bins, the citizens should play their part by disposing of their trash properly. We are not doing enough to recycle in Africa. It is an awful experience to live or walk by a rubbish dump. You cannot even breathe. It is a serious health hazard.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

The several billions of dollars spent annually on the treatment of patients suffering from common diseases in Africa, would be a thing of the past if African governments would only spend a very humble fraction of that sum in enforcing sanitation laws. Special attention must be paid to the cleanliness of the water sources and the water itself.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore,USA

Windhoek, the capital of Namibia is regarded as one of the cleanest cities in Africa and the world. The success should be attributed to the strict laws in Namibia. I don't want to praise my country but examples can be drawn from this success in Windhoek.
Pmwatunga, Oshakati, Namibia

There is no adequate funding of waste disposal and people are not educated on hygiene issues. The failure to continue the 'War Against Indiscipline' programme has helped the problem to carry on. Here in the Western world the laws are working and there is self discipline among the citizens and people like myself have no option than to follow suit despite the fact that I was brought up in filthy African city.
Olaseni Onabiyi, Nigerian in Toronto, Canada


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