Tunisians Protest over Waste Crisis

Tunisians Protest over Waste Crisis
AFP.

19/11/2021

Veronika Sherova,

Environment and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence. 

In the past two weeks, the Tunisian town of Agareb has witnessed protests against the local waste crisis. The citizens are objecting to the poor waste management system in the city, which has been a burden for years. Earlier in September, a decision was taken to close a nearby disposal site, but local authorities reversed the decision on November 8.

Public demonstrations were suppressed by police forces with the use of tear gas and brutal power. According to Africanews, the clashes between security forces and residents resulted in the death of one of the protestors, Abderrazek Lacheheb. Representatives of the government connected his death to an unrelated health condition, but the prosecution has opened an inquiry. 

According to Africanews, the dump - overfilled with domestic and agricultural waste - is also used for dangerous industrial and medical waste. Ben Ibrahim, a protestor whose daughter died in 2019, claims that her death is linked to the dump. Objectively, people’s health, food, and water safety can indeed be negatively affected by improper disposal of waste. Industrial and medical waste is dangerous and can cause a string of diseases from cancer to sight problems and infertility. 

Adequate waste management is essential for human health. It further minimizes the negative impact on the environment by, for instance, reducing dangerous emissions. It also promotes a more sustainable economy wherein recycling existing resources translates into the conservation of natural resources and financial savings. Further, poor waste management represents an affront to human dignity. The government of Tunisia is entitled to and responsible for securing collective sanitation.

Sources and further reading: 

Africanews & AFP. (November 12, 2021). Tunisian President meets with activists over landfill protests in Agareb. Retrieved November 19, 2021, from 

https://www.africanews.com/2021/11/12/tunisian-president-meets-with-activists-over-landfill-protests-in-agareb/ 

Africanews & AFP. (November 13, 2021). Tunisian's Agareb protests over waste crisis. Retrieved November 19, 2021, from https://www.africanews.com/2021/11/13/tunisian-s-agareb-protests-over-waste-crisis//