Public Debate: The Gambia’s Incinerator – Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Waste?

In the bustling streets of Banjul, the pungent aroma of burning waste often hangs heavy in the air, serving as a constant reminder of the pressing issue of waste management in The Gambia. While the government has initiated various initiatives to address this environmental crisis, a controversial incinerator project has ignited a fierce debate, raising questions about its potential benefits and risks.

Arguments in Favor of the Incinerator:

Proponents of the incinerator argue that it offers a sustainable solution to the problem of waste disposal. They claim that incineration reduces landfill space, produces less methane gas, and creates opportunities for energy generation through pyrolysis. The project, they contend, aligns with the government’s Vision 2025 goal of creating a cleaner and greener Gambia.

Arguments Against the Incinerator:

Opponents, however, raise concerns about the environmental impact of incineration, including air pollution, water contamination, and the creation of hazardous toxins. They argue that the incinerator will disproportionately impact vulnerable communities living near the facility and question the government’s commitment to exploring alternative waste management solutions.

Environmental Concerns:

The Gambia’s environmental challenges are well-documented. The country has a high waste generation rate, and its landfills are rapidly filling up. Incineration, while reducing landfill volume, releases harmful pollutants such as particulate matter, heavy metals, and dioxins into the air, posing significant health risks. Additionally, the incineration process consumes large amounts of energy, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Health Impacts:

The fumes from an incinerator can contain a variety of toxic chemicals, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are known to cause various health problems, including cancer, respiratory problems, and neurological disorders. The close proximity of the incinerator to residential areas raises concerns about air pollution and the potential health impacts on vulnerable populations.

Social Impacts:

The siting of the incinerator in a low-income community has raised concerns about social justice and equity. Displaced residents may face increased health problems, decreased property values, and the indignity of living near a polluting facility.


Q: What is the current status of the incinerator project?

A: The project is currently under construction, and the government has announced plans to commence operations in the coming years.

Q: Are there alternative waste management solutions being explored?

A: Yes, the government has undertaken studies to explore alternative waste management options, such as composting and recycling. However, these solutions have not yet been implemented on a large scale.

Q: What are the potential environmental and health impacts of the incinerator?

A: The incinerator will have negative environmental and health impacts, including air and water pollution, as well as the creation of hazardous toxins.

Q: What are the social impacts of the incinerator?

A: The incinerator could have negative social impacts on affected communities, such as increased health problems, decreased property values, and social injustice.


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