people live in dismantling areas and are therefore exposed to harm
tonnes of electronic waste generated in the Philippines in 2014
Every year, our world produces several million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment known as « e-waste ». Although the United States and Europe are the biggest producers, it is developing, low-income countries which receive the bulk of them. So, in the Philippines, treatment of e-waste represents a major source of income for the country. But with no protective legislation and only two operational processing centres, much of this waste is handled unofficially by the «dismantlers of Manila».
These people and their families, including pregnant women and children, are exposed to toxic chemical substances and dangerous heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury.
These products, which have hitherto been handled without great care, pollute both the local environment and the living conditions of these communities. There are disastrous consequences for health: in the short term, these are primarily respiratory and skin problems, as well as injuries caused by the dismantling process. In the long term, these products cause neurological and immunological problems. They affect the reproductive system and are responsible for various cancers.
Since 2012, Doctors of the World has worked with communities of recyclers in four poor urban areas of Manila.
Our teams offer awareness raising sessions, on the risks of dismantling, to promote safer practices and organise clean up days. Protective equipment is also distributed: gloves, masks and Kevlar safety cuffs. With help from community workers, our teams also supported the formation of dismantlers’ associations, who have become genuine partners in the implementation of the project.
Safe mobile dismantling areas were also installed, which were designed specifically for collecting those products which are the most damaging to health.
Doctors of the World conducts on-going monitoring in order to evaluate the use of these areas by the dismantlers (tools, methods of work and follow up of data collection).
Alongside its work with the population, the association also trains medical staff in this type of problem and care. Finally, Doctors of the World implements advocacy activities for the legal recognition of the unofficial e-waste dismantling sector, in partnership with organisations from civil society.
A capitalization report was conducted on this pilot programme in order to have a clear definition of the type of project which can then be reproduced in different contexts.
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