Population growth and its effects on the environment [Archives:2004/773/Health]

September 16 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
The population growth in Yemen, in the main towns in particular, has lead to an increase in food consumption and urban development, and in addition it has caused a growth in annual hard material waste. These matters constitute environmental burdens as a result of which, they become a topic that must be addressed by environmental officials.
Despite the efforts that are made to dispose of and treat the hard material waste, enough is not currently being done, as the garbage accumulation in the streets of many towns, proves. The Population and the Development Booklet (issued by the Center of Population Studies of Sana'a University) indicates that the collection and disposal of garbage in appropriate circumstances only accounts for 60% of the hard residues produced daily from the main towns.
The studies also showed that the scarcity and inaccessibility of garbage dumps, the shortage of waste treatment plants, and the lackadaisical methods of disposal exacerbate the current predicament.
There are only 14 dumping grounds in the Republic which means that some large towns share one site, as what is taking place in the al-Azraqain dump, where the garbage of the Sana'a Governorate and Amran are thrown.
This dump, which has been in use since 1970, is forming an environmental disaster as a result of the quantity of garbage accumulated in its relatively small area of 345440m2, as is the case with the joint dump of Aden and Lahej.
Hard materials residues of all sorts, as well as dangerous industrial waste from hospitals and factories, are disposed in a casual manner: waste that is buried is not well compacted, and the conditions of safe disposal are rarely followed. Each layer has to be compacted separately, so as to ensure there are no gaps or holes, which might enable the reproduction of microorganisms that creates harmful flammable gasses.
The locations of the dumps have to be carefully chosen too: they have to be far removed from agricultural lands and underground and surface water sources, and they have to be on a thick rocky ground so that the residue does not penetrate the ground causing pollution to underground life. Certain sites then, should be relocated, and once filled, a site should be closed.
In conclusion the garbage problem in Yemeni towns requires immediate though. Upon choosing the means of disposal, the negative and positive environmental ramifications have to be given similar attention. Recycling and reuse of waste is an option which ought to be considered for example.
This method is adopted in most of the World's countries, as it is considered an enormous resource. In Yemen some disorganized recycling measures are being taken, for example, there are some workshops that reuse a portion of the plastic waste or metals by reshaping them into simple tools in preference to exportation.
The quantity of exported metals reached 14746 tons for all metals for 2003, and 104 tons of iron scrap for 2002, and the reuse of the cartons and packaging has helped to generate the yearly income of YR 145926000.