Gambia: Bakoteh Dump Site: A Public Health Concern

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Bakoteh Dump Site: A Public Health Concern

By: Dawda Nenegalleh Jallow

When a group of politicians toured the country during the 2016 presidential campaign with an agenda of a three years transition period, Gambians thought their mission was genuine and voted them into office with the expectation of improving their standards of living but after more than two years in office, are they still living their promises?

Although it’s inevitable to live without producing either solid or liquid waste but the way that waste is collected, segregated, transported and subsequently disposed has a great impact on the health and well-being of the people and for that reason, the Gambia Government and Kanifing Municipal Council need to take a bold decision to solve the issues surrounding the Bakoteh Dump Site.

Bakoteh Dump Site is situated in between three densely populated communities of Bakoteh, Dippa Kunda and Manjai Kunda with a population of 16,924, 17,654 and 18,601 people respectively according to the 2013 census and this dumpsite is not only a health hazard to the people living around those areas but also to the patients visiting the SOS health facility, orphans living at the children’s village and hundreds of students from all around the country who attend SOS primary, upper and senior secondary schools.

With close to 100,000 people directly affected by this dump site and considering the consequences of poor waste management systems in India and Bangladesh, I’m left with no option but to say that the Gambia Government and Kanifing Municipal Council is causing serious health complications to these people as more than 70% of the waste dumped at this site is generated out of their localities.

On Friday, March 15th, 2019, this dump site caught fire that created an enormous amount of smoke polluting the environment, blocking the traffic along the Tippa Garage – Manjai Kunda highway and causing a lot of nuisance and after nine days since the fire started, the smoke is still affecting these areas without the proper intervention from either the central government or the municipal council.

As a concerned citizen, I’m recommending that The Gambia Government and Kanifing Municipal Council:
1 – to erect a tall fence to:

a – prevent the illegal dumping of waste all around the site.
b – prevent children from scavenging which is hazardous to their health.
c – better manage the site by segregating the waste and designating areas where different types of waste are dumped.

2 – consult experts to set up waste-to-energy plants where all the waste generated can be transformed into useful energy that would be beneficial to the citizenry.

3 – put up and implement policies that would apply the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), prevent the importation of useless materials like newspapers, unwanted second hand shoes and clothing, etc.

At the moment, government leaders have forgotten their promises, fighting each other to stay/assume power and are thinking how to win the next election but as I conclude this article, I will leave you with the words of James Allen as he mentioned in his book – As A Man Thinketh, “By the right choice and true application of thoughts, man ascends to the divine perfection but by the abuse and wrong application of thoughts, he descends below the level of the beast”.

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