80% Lankans burn or dump garbage
By Paneetha Ameresekere
Waste management remains a significant issue in Sri Lanka as almost 80 per cent of Sri Lankans burn or dump their garbage, the World Bank (WB) said Wednesday (13). The WB, in a publication titled Sri Lanka Poverty Update said, nationally, only 22 per cent of households have their trash collected by a garbage truck. Most often, garbage is burned (44 per cent) or dumped within the premises (28 per cent), it said.
The burning or dumping of waste can have a detrimental impact on the environment and on the population’s health, the WB warned. It further said that almost 80 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population lives in rural areas. Vis-à-vis Sri Lankans getting rid of garbage, the situation is much worse among the poor, with nearly 90 per cent of such either dumping or burning their garbage as described aforesaid, the WB further said. However, the garbage collection service coverage is significantly better in urban areas, where 81 per cent of households are serviced by garbage trucks, compared to only 11 per cent and 2 per cent respectively among the rural and estate sector populations, it said.
Vis-à-vis housing conditions which are connected to garbage as well as an indicator of the socioeconomic status of the population, the WB said that in the Northern Province (NP), over three per cent of the population still lives in slums/shanties, though this is an improvement from the 10 per cent share in 2012/13. Overcrowding is much more significant in the Northern and Eastern Provinces; the share of households living in dwellings where two adults have the equivalent of less than one room is 51 per cent in the NP and 43 per cent in the Eastern Province, compared to the national average of 32 per cent.
Electricity is the primary source of lighting—nationwide coverage is almost 98 per cent—but seven per cent of households in the NP still rely on kerosene, the WB said. Firewood remains the predominant cooking fuel (69 per cent) almost everywhere except the Western Province. Less than 30 percent of all households use gas, the WB further said.