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Keeping it clean

  • Published at 08:00 pm May 11th, 2020
waste collector
Photo: MEHEDI HASAN

Many waste collectors have already fallen sick, as they work without adequate protection

Bangladesh -- particularly in its highly urbanized areas -- has always struggled with the problem of waste. Even at the best of times, our waste management infrastructure can be said to be inadequate, in spite of repeated plans and promises from our city corporations to clean things up.

But now, with the Covid-19 crisis threatening all of us, with no clear end in sight, the problem becomes all the more alarming. Improper waste management leads to a variety of health problems, and has in the past been responsible for the rapid spread of dengue and chikungunya. In the time of a global pandemic, though, the problems we face could be much direr.

Consider this: Last month alone, at least 14,300 tons of waste, including items used for coronavirus protection, was generated across the country, according to the Environmental and Social Development Organization (ESDO). Contributing significantly to this high volume of waste were gloves, masks, sanitizers, and polythene.

Not surprisingly, the largest waste generator was the capital, but due to the number of waste management workers having reduced by almost half, an inadequate job is being done, putting many, not to mention waste collectors, at risk.

Many waste collectors have already fallen sick, as they work without adequate protection, and are handling, day to day, precisely the items that could infect a person.

This is all the more worrying during Covid-19 because of the high risk of infection. A sick waste management worker can infect ten others, and if we are to contain this problem, it is important to fix this broken system.

For far too long, we have ignored this obvious issue which has brought down the standard of our living. Now, faced with even greater consequences, let us not neglect it any further.