The old quarry of Bakoteh

Popularly known as The quarry, the Bakoteh dump site is all that remains of an old strip mining. The craters the old stone excavations left behind now harbour the garbage of half a million people in Kanifing, the most densely populated region of The Gambia. This is an open pit mine where waste is disposed of indiscriminately and uncontrolled, which is causing a serious environmental impact and a constant threat to the population health.

quarry
With an area equivalent to 25 football pitches, the Bakoteh dump site was one day a peripheral territory, a suburb outside the residential areas. Nowadays, as a result of the rural exodus and the rapid population growth in the metropolis, it is now cornered by the urban nucleus. It has become a desolated and extremely unhealthy place in the city area.

For many of the inhabitants of Kanifing The quarry has been too long its worst nightmare and its protests persist crying out the definitive cease of the dump site. However for many others, this inhospitable place has become the last recourse to survive. The poverty situation of the most disadvantaged families has led them to the landfill in search of an opportunity. Hundreds of people wander daily in the trash searching for anything they can seize or sell in thrift stores in exchange for some coins. But it is no easy task to find something useful. For example, it can be seen that thousands of boots and winter coats are piled up in the dump site. Most of these have arrived as charity donations from the West, however they are not very useful in a tropical climate country. Others put their lives at risk by scrapping and burning electronic devices to extract the metals they contain. This exposes them to the toxicity of the extracted substances, to the inhalation of contaminated gases, and to the contagion of diseases.

About the author:
Born and based in Barcelona, Spain, Cristian Sarmiento has a University Degree in Marketing as well as a Postgraduate Certificate Degree in Photography. He currently combines his work on interior design photography with the realization of documentary projects about contemporary issues and human rights in collaboration with associations and NGOs. He is moved by a feeling of activism and responsibility, trying to make a social contribution by storytelling. Cristian is worldwide available for work on documentary projects.

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