Stung Meanchey Dump

First Posted 18-Aug-2015

This is a short one. It sort of connects to “Gazinta, Gazouta“. I’m not sure it isn’t just a repost of something I found online. If it is and I’ve ignored a proper credit to the original writer, sorry. The garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’, ‘Stung Meanchey Municipal Waste Dump is located in southern Phnom Penh, in a district of the city of the same name, Stung Meanchey. It is a part of the city with low-income neighborhoods and slums. The dump itself covers about 100 acres, or almost 6 hectares. It is flanked by private property on which rubbish pickers build makeshift huts and are charged extortionate rents by landowners.

Roughly 2,000 people, about 600 of which are children, live and work there.   It is nicknamed “Smoky Mountain” because of the miasma of smoke that the dump constantly gives off. It is literally on fire; the waste creates methane as it rots and the methane burns. In monsoon season and throughout much of the rest of the year, the surrounding area is swamped and the children live and play in fetid water.

Most of the rubbish pickers at Steung Meanchey are either from Phnom Penh or came to Phnom Penh looking for work and ended up in the slums. Many of the approximately 600 children have parents or relatives who also work on the dump and look after them. Some of them go to school, but most do not – at least not on a regular basis -, and it is safe to say that virtually none of them ever completes a primary school education. The school fees are too high and their families need them to collect rubbish to contribute to the family income. Adults earn, on average, 4000 to 5000 riels (US$1.00 to $1.25) a day; children earn on average about half that amount. A whole family working together can actually earn more money than they could in the rural village from which they originally came.