The Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ) has presented a report highlighting the current situation of waste management and urban hygiene in the villas (shantytowns) of Buenos Aires, and challenges to ensure clean living standards.
According to the association, the aim of the report, called, “Waste in the Villas: Working Towards Equal Services” is to establish the specific obligations of businesses bidding for the contract to provide waste management services for the City Government. It highlights the need for companies to define their commitments in detail when they present their work proposal defining their responsibilities towards a clean and healthy living environment for the villa residents.
The report details that for more than eight years the ACIJ has been supporting Buenos Aires villa residents to help them get their rights heard. During this time, the association noticed that along with electricity and water and sewage systems, “the question of rubbish in the streets” was a priority. It notes that urban hygiene services and rubbish collection in the villas does not meet requirements, leading to the build-up of huge rubbish dumps and generating serious health risks for the residents.
The ACIJ bought the problem to court, which ruled that a Public Urban Sanitation Service must be guaranteed in the villas, and declared that it was the city government’s responsibility to to find a way to provide it.
Among the many conclusions drawn in the report, the ACIJ highlights that company work proposals should guarantee the following:
- That companies are obligated to collect all waste in the whole of the villa including, public spaces and the interior streets and passageways, whether they are paved or not.
- If streets are not paved, the service should be carried out through a specific program involving the villa residents.
- Bins must be placed in the villas with the same standards as in the rest of the city.
- Companies must allow for the participation of the authorities, organisations and residents in their activities in the villas, making their plans known and inviting discussion.
- Company activities should be transparent in terms of the working conditions and security of the residents who, according to the tender, can provide services to the companies.
Proposals should also take into account the geographical and historical differences between the villas, and guarantee common standards between companies so that inequalities are not generated between different neighbourhoods. They must also take into account pre-existing situations, such as residents who have come together or organisations which, in the absence of the state, have implemented informal cleaning and waste collection activities.