A collaborative meeting with researchers and activists in Angola held at the Instituto Mosaiko in Viana, on 1 July 2021, to discuss the “garbage crisis” in Luanda, and its consequences in terms of citizenship and human rights – at a time when Angola is struggling with serious environmental problems, from the drought in the southern provinces of Angola to pollution in large cities and the impact of the extractive industry (oil and diamonds).
In 2021, Luanda experienced a health crisis that added even more suffering to that caused by COVID19 to Angolan citizens. Problems with hiring and managing solid waste collection companies led to an unsustainable accumulation of garbage across the city. However, as any Luanda native knows very well, the “garbage problem” of 2021 is yet another episode in a long history of waste management problems, poor environmental practices and lack of respect for the sanitary conditions of citizens, leading to a constant increase in diseases and mortality – not just in Luanda but across the country. It is therefore not only a general human rights problem – the right to life and health – but also and specifically a problem of governance and citizenship.
On July 1, 2021, organized by the Terceira Divisão and the Projeto Ambuíla and with the support of the University of Gothenburg, the Onjango (collective roundtable) “Garbage, Citizenship and Local Politics” took place at the Instituto Mosaiko (Estalagem, Km.12). We discussed possible strategies and action plans against the waste crisis. The event had contributions from: Hitler Samussuku, Israel Campos, Cláudio Fortuna, Chloé Buire, José Gomes Hata and Ruy Llera Blanes. The following questions were asked:
- Considering that basic sanitation and health are universal and basic rights, what kind of accountability can be demanded from governors and citizens for the problem of garbage and other environmental/sanitary problems?
- What can a municipal governance model contribute in terms of solving the waste problem?
- How can active citizenship be built around the environmental/health problems that affect it?
- In addition to legislative initiatives and reforms, what short, medium and long term strategies can be developed?
- How to frame the particularities inherent to urban and rural contexts?