Life in a landfill slum, children’s health, and the Millennium Development Goals

August 25, 2015 · 0 comments

Life in a landfill slum, children’s health, and the Millennium Development Goals. Sci Total Env, Dec 2015.

Authors: Tomoyuki Shibata, et al.

• Waste-pickers and the health and well-being of their children are examined
• Landfill slum (LS) residents do not have a share in improving economies
• LSs illustrate the interrelationship of Millennium Development Goals
• LS mothers and children are exposed to toxic chemicals and pathogens
• MDGs directly and indirectly addresses issues affecting LS children’s health
• Improved solid waste management will benefit LS resident health and well-being

People living in slums can be considered left behind with regard to national successes in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The objective of this study was to evaluate the living and working conditions of waste pickers and their children in a landfill slum located in the largest city in eastern Indonesia. A total of 113 people from the landfill slum and 1184 people from the general population participated in face-to-face interviews. Municipal solid waste (MSW) was analyzed for metals, metalloids and fecal indicator bacteria. Ambient air quality including particulate matter was measured in the landfill. Households in the landfill slum were 5.73 (p = 0.04) times more likely to be below the international poverty line (MDG 1: Poverty) and 15.6 times (p < 0.01) more likely to have no one in the household possessing a primary education (MDG 2: Universal Education), and 107 times (p < 0.01) more likely not to have improved sanitation facilities (MDG 7: Environmental Sustainability) when compared to the general population. Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in children under five in Indonesia. Young children living in the landfill slum were 2.87 times (p = 0.02) more likely to develop diarrhea than their general population counterparts. Other survey results and environmental measurements suggest that landfill slum children have additional adverse health effects (e.g. infections and poisoning). Poverty underlies several MDG issues that directly or indirectly affect child health. Therefore, eradicating extreme poverty will continue to be the most critical challenge for the MDGs beyond 2015.

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