Durban Reality Tour


Title Durban Reality Tour
Director(s) Pamela Ngwenya
Date released (year) 2009
Production company Malinga Productions
Length 28 mins
Location Durban, South Africa
Keywords/tags Dumping, toxic waste,   sustainability, informal settlements
Link to film

Durban Reality Tour from Pamela Ngwenya on Vimeo.

Synopsis On 4th November 2009, the Centre for Civil   Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal led a tour of Durban that conveys   the gritty reality faced by ordinary Durbanites. This video documents the   highlights of the tour, including the ‘toxic’ South Durban Industrial Basin,   the tented community of Crossmoor and, on a more positive note, the   development of an organic community garden and biodigester in the township of   Cato Manor.
Reviews/discussion When critically‑minded people   visit Durban and seek out a ‘reality tour’ typically denied by the mainstream   tourist circuit, one of the stops is the Centre for Civil Society at the   University of KwaZulu‑Natal. Located at the highest point in Durban (the top   floors of Memorial Tower Building in Glenwood), the Centre introduces   sympathetic visitors to the work of leading social activists and environmentalists.   The sites that kombi‑taxis arranged by CCS reach include an inner‑city tense   with resistance to xenophobia and gentrification, the largest petrochemical complex   in a residential area in Africa, a variety of shack settlements and working‑class   ‘African’, ‘Indian’ and ‘coloured’ neighbourhoods, the hotly‑contested source   of Durban’s water at Inanda Dam, and the university environs.


John Vidal   in Durban,, Tuesday   6 December 2011: Why south   Durban stinks of rotten cabbage, eggs and cat wee

In the ‘centre of   toxic Africa’, residents say they can identify nausea, drowsiness, vomiting   and headaches by industrial sources.

There’s the metaphorical whiff of diplomats burning the midnight oil to   find a deal at the the UN climate talks. But 5km away in south Durban, the   air really does smell of rotten cabbage, cat wee and almonds.

With two crude oil refineries, South Africa‘s two biggest paper   mills, its biggest container port, a dozen chemical companies, several major   landfill sites and a huge number of factories together producing 80% of South Africa‘s oil   products and much of its industrial emissions, south Durban locals have   learned to identify the coughs, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting and headaches   they suffer by their sources.

Oil companies are said to create a stink of a cocktail of rotten eggs and   burned matches, a carworks reeks of ethanol and the vinegar smell comes from   a leather company.



South African   Environmental Justice struggles against “toxic” petrochemical   industries in South Durban: The Engen Refinery Case

This   case study explores the South Durban community’s struggle against   disproportionate exposure to a hazardous environment and sulphur dioxide   pollution, and at the same time, being faced with “clear and   present” health hazards linked to petrochemical industrial production.   To unpack the environmental justice challenges facing post-apartheid South   Africa, the case study examines the role played by the South Durban Community   Environmental Alliance in articulating environmental injustices and poor   environmental responsibility of the petrochemical industry in South Africa.


Links to other resources Africa’s Biggest Landfill Site: The Case Of Bisasar   Road | by Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife:–by-patrick-bond-and-khadija-sharife

Toxic Dumpings in Somalia

Title Toxic Dumpings   in Somailia
Director(s) Mohamed Daud (Environmental   Justice for Somalia)
Date released (year) 2011
Production company EpicShots Studios
Length 14 mins
Location Somalia
Keywords/tags Neoliberalism,   toxic waste, dumping
Link to film
Synopsis Background into the TOXIC DUMPINGS in   SOMALIA that has been going for the past 2 decades. This videos illustrates   the main players responsible for the dumpings, and the complacency shown by   the western countries to this systematic rape of the Somali coastline.
Reviews/discussion The Ecologist, 1st   March 2009:


“Somalia used as toxic   dumping ground”

By Chris Milton

Pirates ruled Somalia’s   waves last year, but a greater crime is still being perpetrated by the   multinational companies using the mainland as a toxic dumping ground. Chris   Milton reports

The pirates of Somalia became bandits   of international notoriety during 2008, hijacking ever more prolific targets,   including arms ships, oil tankers and cruise liners, and extracting huge   ransoms from their owners.

National governments and NGOs decried   their actions as an affront to international maritime law, but few examined   the pirates’ claim that a far greater crime continues in Somalia: the illegal   dumping of toxic waste.

For more than 10 years, environmental   and human rights organisations have called on the international community to   act to stop this dumping, but successive wars have ensured the crisis has   only deepened. Now, as Ethiopian troops withdraw from Somalia and the piracy   becomes more subdued, there is hope the issue can be properly investigated   and resolved.

In 1997, in the Italian magazine Famiglia   Cristiana, Greenpeace published a landmark investigation into the   dumping, which showed that it started in the late 1980s, and exposed Swiss   and Italian companies as brokers for the transportation of hazardous waste   from Europe to dumps in Somalia. Subsequent research has also shown that the   company employed physically to ship the waste was wholly owned by the Somali   government.

When Somalia slipped into civil war   in 1992, the waste exporters had to negotiate with local clan warlords, who   demanded guns and ammunition to allow the dumping to continue. Many of the   ships, having brought weapons or waste, then became trawlers, and left Somali   waters with holds full of tuna for onward sale.

An investigation into the murder of   the Italian journalist Ilaria Alpi in Somalia in 1994 quotes the warlord   Boqor Musa as saying, ‘It is evident those ships carried military equipment   for different factions involved in the civil war’, and it is widely believed   that Alpi was assassinated because she had incontrovertible evidence of the guns-for-waste   trade.

The Greenpeace report briefly made   the news and was followed up by the European Green Party tabling a question   in the European Parliament about ‘the dumping of toxic waste from German,   French and Italian nuclear power plants and hospitals’ in Somalia.

It also prompted a large   investigation in Italy, a former colonial power in Somalia. This concluded   that around 35 million tonnes of waste had been exported to Somalia for only   $6.6 billion, leading the environmental group Legambiente to assert Somalia’s   inland waste dumps are ‘among the largest in the world’.

The Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 served   to reinvigorate interest in the continued dumping of hazardous waste in   Somalia. Rusting tanks of unidentifiable ooze were washed up on to beaches;   villagers began to die of unexplained illnesses and coastal ecosystems   collapsed.

In 2005, the UN Development Programme   (UNDP) concluded its own on-the-ground investigation in Somalia. Despite   being stymied by local political interests and finding no tangible proof, it   concluded that the ‘dumping of toxic and harmful waste is rampant in the sea,   on the shores and in the hinterland’.

A year later the Somali multi-clan   NGO Daryeel Bulsho Guud conducted its own survey. With greater local   co-operation, it was able to identify 15 containers of ‘confirmed nuclear and   chemical wastes’ in eight coastal areas.

At the same time, the UN and World   Bank put together a Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) to plan for Somalia’s return   to functioning nationhood. Updated in 2008, it recommends $42.1 million be   set aside for environmental activities, including ensuring all ‘toxic waste   [is] found and removed’. It doesn’t address the cost of human suffering,   however, and ignores the fact that the dumping of toxic waste in Somalia continues   to this day.

Field research in Somalia by Zainab   Hassan, a former fellow at the University of Minnesota and Environmental   Justice Advocate, has brought to light a whole range of chronic and acute   illnesses suffered by Somalis.

These include severe birth defects,   such as the absence of limbs, and widespread cancers. One local doctor said   he had treated more cases of cancer in one year than he had in his entire   professional career before the tsunami.

‘Firms are illegally dumping   hazardous and nuclear waste,’ says Zainab Hassan. ‘The international   community should do something in terms of cleaning up, and those responsible   should be brought to justice.’

EcoTerra, an NGO with strong   connections within Somalia, agrees, though it refuses to name the companies   involved or their countries of origin. Possibly with one eye upon the   assassination of Ilaria Alpi, it describes the situation as ‘deadly’.

The UN’s Special Representative for   the region, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, is similarly sensitive. He confi rms that   dumping continues on the Somali coast, likening the situation to the shipping   of blood diamonds from Liberia and Sierra Leone. His office refuses to name   which NGOs he’s asked to investigate the issue, however, presumably for their   own protection, or the companies suspected of being involved.

Bringing those responsible for the   dumping to justice may be hard. Under EU regulations 259/93 and 92/3/Euratom,   the originating country is responsible for disposing of its medical and   nuclear waste, as well as for its retrieval if it is disposed of illegally.

With many of the containers unmarked   and much of the paperwork probably long since lost or destroyed, however, it   will take a lot to enable any legal action to take place.

In addition, a UNDP source described   the search for hazardous material in Somalia as like looking for a needle in   a haystack. It’s not that they don’t know it’s there, he says, but that they   don’t know where to start looking for it.

This makes it all the more urgent   that stability return to the country. Only then will the dumping stop and the   clean-up commence.

Chris Milton is a freelance   journalist

This article first appeared in the   Ecologist March 2009


Links to other resources ‘Environmental   Justice for Somalia’ can be found on facebook or at

Toxic Somalia


Title Toxic Somalia
Director(s) Paul Moreira
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Premieres   Lignes
Length 52 mins
Location Somalia
Keywords/tags Toxic waste,   dumping, nuclear
Link to film (in French)
Synopsis It costs just $2.50 to dump a tonne of   toxic waste off the coast of Somalia. It’s the world’s cheapest rubbish dump   and a nice little earner for certain westerners, who would have to pay $1,000   to dump their trash back home. But hundreds of Somalis are falling ill,   poisoned by other peoples’ waste. Barrels of nuclear waste frequently wash up   on the shores of Puntland and the beaches are often strewn with dead fish.

Who is dumping this waste in Somali waters?   Who in Somalia is making money from it? Two Italian journalists have already   lost their lives for asking such questions. We re-open the inquiry. It’s an   investigation that leads us into the shady underworlds of the Italian mafia,   Somali pirates and the lethal nuclear waste industry.


Links to other resources  Also see Toxic Dumping in Somalia:

The Gleaners of Nairobi

Title The   Gleaners of Nairobi
Director(s) Patrick   Forestier
Date released (year) 2009
Production company France 2
Length 31 mins
Location Kenya
Keywords/tags Toxic waste,   dumping
Link to film (IN FRENCH)
Synopsis An eye-opening visit to the unauthorized   dumping sites of Africa. We head to Dandora, an eastern suburb of Nairobi,   Kenya. It’s a far cry from the beautiful safari images we so often see from   this part of the world. Here, since the 1970’s, people are born, live, and   die on the illegal rubbish dump. Men, women and children search amongst the steaming   piles of toxic waste for discarded food to eat and any articles they can   conceivably clean up and sell. Within the limits of the dumping ground, a   micro economy booms and strident set of unwritten rules govern who gets first   pick as new loads of rubbish arrive. Particularly lucrative are the   truckloads of waste from airplanes; there is a scramble for unfinished   airplane meals and cutlery as each dumpster unloads. The older scavengers   help themselves first, whilst the children wait their turn patiently.

We meet the people who work on the dump who   invite us into their lives and explain, with dignity and eloquence, how they   survive amongst the rubbish and the dangers of the gangs who control the   area.


Links to other resources

Ghana: a graveyard for the world’s electronic waste

Director(s) Fabrice Babin
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Elephant Doc
Length 12 mins
Location Ghana
Keywords/tags toxic waste,   dumping, waste
Link to clip
Synopsis What happens to our old fridges, freezers, computers   and electrical items? Whilst the more conscientious Europeans and North   American companies recycle these toxic by-products of modern day living,   others send their electronic waste over to dumping grounds in Africa. On the   outskirts of Accra, the capital of Ghana, 3000 families scratch out a daily   existence amongst the poisonous fumes of the electronic graveyard. Dressed in   rags and wearing only flip-flops on their feet, adults and children sift   through the smoking debris in search of precious metals to sell for a few   euros


Links to other resources Earth Times:

Greenpeace film:   Electronic Waste in Ghana:

The Story of Electronics :