Photo Essay


Garbage Dump, Phnom Penh

One of the most heartbreaking sights that I have witnessed is in Phnom Penh, the wealthiest and most populous city in Cambodia. The burgeoning capital city has a 100-acre garbage dump at Stung Meanchey where over 900 tons of garbage is dumped daily and a small society (including many children) scavenge through piles of smoldering trash.

Dense clouds of black smoke rise from the burning debris; the air is permeated with toxic gasses. I could barely stand it for a few minutes, yet people live in this daily.

People have set up a village on the fringe of this harsh environment and live on an average of 50-75 cents per day while the International Poverty Standard equals less than $1.00 per day.

As a result of working and living at the dump, the residents are susceptible to all types of injuries, diseases, nutritional issues and even death. We heard of children being buried alive while running behind trucks that were dumping their load. Potable water for drinking and cleaning is at a premium. Burns, cuts, bruises and broken bones are common and just the shear nature of the environment is a haven for infection and parasites. Medical care and assistance is sparse.

I was visiting with a Non-Government Organization (NGO) that provided volunteer medical assistance to the residents. The organization is also involved with relocating orphan's and families several miles away to a village where children get an education, clothes and nutritional meals.

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5 responses

  • Rey mos

    Rey mos gave props (14 May 2009):

    You really captured the emotions thru these images. All the best. Rey

  • Rey mos

    Rey mos said (14 May 2009):

    Im fortunate to work related to environmental management and one of them is waste disposal. My MPhil thesis focused on identifying possible sites in the Philippines for land surface facilities (aka landfills) using Geographic Information System (GIS). Unsanitary landfills are everywhere in developing countries and these are also one of the sources of livelihood of the poor segment of the society. Thanks for reminding us on the impacts of improper waste disposal. It is nice to hear that you were involved on this issue as well.

  • Charlene Kenna

    Charlene Kenna said (23 Jun 2009):

    good story Henry...I think it should be published

  • Lon Casler Bixby

    Lon Casler Bixby   gave props (1 Mar 2010):

    Powerful... Voted ;o)

  • Gail Parker

    Gail Parker said (20 Jul 2010):

    Powerful, painful too.

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