Life at Payatas Dump
History of The Dump
The Payatas dump is the largest dump in Manila, a city of 12 million people in The Philippines.
Before the Payatas dump was established over 40 yeas ago the area was just a barren ravine surrounded by farmland. The dump has become the largest open dump in the Philippines taking up an area of 13 hectares.
Tragedy struck in 2000 when a landslip at the Dump killed at least 260 and possibly 1,000 people. Payatas Dump was closed after this but the local inhabitants asked for it to reopen as without it they had lost their livelihoods and anyway the city had no other facilities for handling rubbish. Conditions slowly improved in the years following this. Children under 14 could no longer work on the dump, the rubbish piles at the dump were re-sloped to reduce the risks of landslides and methane extractors were brought in to stop the gas generated by organic material creating spontaneous fires on the Dump.
Despite this the site remains dangerous and especially after tropical rains the rotting garbage stinks.
Working on the Dump
The site is fenced and guarded where rubbish carts drive in to drop their loads. Scavengers pay to get daily access to the dump in the sweltering heat and they then search through the rubbish to find things trying to avoid the rats or getting cut and scratched by sharp objects.
As a mother, Mrs Reyes*, takes it in turns with her husband to work at the Dump and care for their 2 children but often they are left with her grandmother or the neighbours while she works.
Most scavengers tend to specialise in collecting certain items such as card, glass drinks bottles or, like the Reyes in drinks bottles and other plastic. Scavengers carry their finds from the dump and sort and clean them (perhaps washing them in the dirty streams nearby) often with the children helping. This is filthy work.
The support from the Grapevine Outreach programme is just enough to allow her child to go to school. The saleable items will then be sold to the local junk man who pays a minimal amount per kilo of recyclable material and sells it on to be processed elsewhere.
Living by the Dump
Because the pay is so poor with no money for transport, workers at the dump have to live close by, often in shacks made from rubbish, squatting illegally on land at the edge of the Dump. There is very little space and there may be up to 15 people living in a single room with not enough space for everyone to lie down.
Drinking water has to be bought and there is no electricity- an old rechargeable car battery is sometimes used to get a dim light in the evening. Often there are no toilet facilities so its a ‘bag it and chuck it’ system with waste piling up as there is no collection service
Government efforts have sought to improve living conditions and new development areas have been built which at least gives access to basic water, drainage and electricity but without any way to earn a living there the level of poverty often remains desperate. Despite this many families remain without the basics.
Closing of Payatas
In 2017 the Dump was closed as studies showed that it was polluting the water table. Since then all the 6,000 rubbish truck deliveries a day are supposed to go to San Isidro, a smaller dump some distance away where other scavengers work.
With this closure, many of the Payatas workers lost their livelihoods as it is too far for them to travel. Some have retrained. Mrs C went to a training course put on by Children of the Dump and learned to weave. Nowadays she uses rags from the dump to make simple dishmats. By making 4 a day she can earn 80 pesos (about £1) a day.
Other Payatas dwellers like Mrs Santos* now ask rubbish truck drivers to tip their loads in the street which gives her the raw material to continue with their work scavenging earning perhaps 100 pesos per day (£1.40). Mostly this is only enough for a single small meal of rice. Luckily 2 of her 3 children have places in the Grapevine programme which means that they get a meal at school and education which will help lift the family from their miserable existence
You can make a difference to the Children of the Dump
By donating you can make a direct difference to the Children of the Dump by giving them the opportunities that education provides and making a better life in the future. Fulltime professional social workers help to ensure that the children are able to maximise the benefits of the education ny ensuring a strong home life.
Support our work
There are many ways that you can help transform young lives in Manila.
A chance to be children
Thanks to a sponsor, many of the children enjoyed a special carefree holiday day out to a pool.
You can make a Regular Monthly Donation of an amount that suits you which can be set up by standing order via PayPal or BT MyDonate.
Sponsor a Child
You can sponsor a child Monthly through Cashew Early Years, Grapevine Outreach or the Mango Tree House.
One off Donation
You can make a One off Single Payment donation if a Regular Monthly Donation is not right for you.