• Ethiopia’s landfill of opportunities

    Lou Del Bello

Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is growing so fast that the Repi landfill site, which 40 years ago was in the outskirts of the city, is now at its centre. The 40 hectares of solid waste it contains are not only contaminating the ground, but methane emissions are also escaping into the air.
Hundreds of poor people have been making a living from the site for decades, collecting recyclable materials to sell for a few birrs (the local currency). But their health, as well as that of nearby inhabitants, was at risk from pollution.
In 2009, the city administration, in cooperation with the UN Development Programme and the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network, launched a project to improve the environment and people’s lives by capturing and burning the methane produced.
The carbon credits produced by avoiding greenhouse gas emissions will be traded on the global market within the Clean Development Mechanism established under the Kyoto protocol on emissions cuts. The money will be invested in turning the site into a public park and creating jobs for the waste pickers who live among the landfill.