TAIZ: An Environment on the Brink of Disaster! [Archives:1998/25/Health]

June 22 1998

Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,
Yemen Times
What a beautiful city! How clean is our charming city of Taiz! Wow! Where was this beauty hidden? What is behind all this fascination and glamour? Taiz looks like a smartly dressed young lady with a blooming beauty.
I woke up shaking frighteningly like a leaf. I rubbed my eyes and looked out of the window. I felt awfully gloomy and sad to see the streets of our city as they were, littered with garbage and all sorts of filth. It was just a dream.
But I should say why this dream can’t see the light of day and why not? It is not beyond our ability to make our cities clean and thus reflect the true image of our country. We always claim that we are Muslims and a civilized society. But Islam doesn’t co-exist with dirt; rather, cleanliness is a part and parcel of Islam. We need these slogans to be put into practice so that we can see their meaning in an actual context. Will we do it ?
I believe that it is in our hand to free our atmosphere from the disastrous nightmare of pollution. What we need is that nobody should wash his hands off the responsibility of protecting our environment and health. It is remorseful to see even educated people throwing away their garbage in the streets.
The spread of the piled rubbish in the streets of Taiz is an environmental and health danger. This uncollected waste inside and around the containers in addition to the sewage has resulted in the spread of a good many diseases. Moreover, many people are now plagued with many unusual diseases. This leaves no room for doubt that rubbish and sewage play a very big role in the deteriorating health conditions of people in Taiz.
But the most dangerous trend becoming popular nowadays in Taiz is the burning of the garbage material inside its street containers. Due to the piling up of the rubbish inside and all around the containers and the neglect on the part of the people in charge of collecting rubbish, people have resorted to burning it inside its litter bins. What is worse is the burning of plastic and rubber. People have found in this practice an easy way of getting rid of rubbish. But they have forgotten that the harm of the noxious fumes emitting from these containers and permeating the atmosphere is bigger than the parasites and flies gathering around these waste materials.
So wherever you go, you get suffocated and feel unable to breathe with ease. Clouds of exhaust fumes and smoke emitting from motorbikes, outdated cars and rubbish containers cover Taiz.
This practice of dump burning should be promptly addressed. It must be stopped now since it is very dangerous and can even be fatal. This smoggy suffocating atmosphere causes a lot of trouble to our eyes, noses, and lungs. And one of the common diseases in Taiz these days is asthma. Life in Taiz has truly become hellish and unbearable. The people of Taiz are immensely disturbed and annoyed.
So many people have appealed through newspapers asking for a prompt solution to this many-faceted problem. But it seems that their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. It also seems that the people concerned with the collection of rubbish are happy with this practice of rubbish burning because it permits them to continue in their slothfulness even at the cost of the health and happiness of the hapless inhabitants.
But I know the real reason why they don’t collect the rubbish from the containers. Can you guess what it is? They are actually merciful and feel pity for needy, maganeen (mad) people and animals; since these helpless creatures have found a greener pasture in these waste containers. In this way they are doing a favor to these creatures.
By and large, the danger of this problem is enormously unspeakable. This is because it threatens the life of all the people of Taiz and its beautiful atmosphere.
Taiz has been deprived of so many essential and indispensable regular services like water, electricity, etc. But it can’t give any further sacrifice. Indeed, it wants to maintain at least its free-from-pollution atmosphere. Is there someone listening?!