Magazine article New Internationalist

A Death in Durban

Magazine article New Internationalist

A Death in Durban

Article excerpt

South African environmental activist Sajida Khan sadly passed away on 12 July after a long struggle with cancer. Khan campaigned for over a decade against the Bisasar Road waste dump in Durban -one of the largest municipal dumps in the Southern Hemisphere - which she was forced to see, hear and smell every day outside the window of her Clare Estate home.

The dump came to international attention when it was revealed that the World Bank was planning to invest in so-called 'clean development' financing of a landfill gas capture project on the site. Khan quickly realized that the dump would need to stay open even longer than originally planned in order for the project to generate the desired number of 'carbon credits' - which Northern countries would then purchase, and put towards meeting their Kyoto Protocol commitments. As she put it: 'The poor countries are so poor they will accept crumbs. The World Bank know this and they are taking advantage of it.'

For Khan and many other residents, this was unacceptable. Having lost her nephew to leukaemia and neighbours who had contracted tumours and other illnesses, she was convinced the dump was at least partly to blame for their ill-health. That the dump was now getting a new lease of life thanks to the supposedly environmental Kyoto treaty was a bitter irony. With the support of the Durban Network for Climate Justice and others, Khan made contacts with environmental justice activists across the world, learning about similar struggles elsewhere and finding support for her work back home. …

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