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04DJIBOUTI1534 2004-12-02 02:19:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DJIBOUTI 001534 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2014

Classified By: Pol/Econ Erinn C. Reed for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (U) Summary: The Government of Djibouti has taken the
first of many small steps to clean up Djibouti in launching a
contest for the best "Act and Keep Your City Clean" poster.
The contest opened for registration November 6th to 11th for
children between the ages of 10 and 20. The contest
participants have a period of three days in which to submit
their entries between November 27th to 30th. Pol/Econ met
November 17th with the Director of the Technical Service of
Djibouti, "the Voirie," Djaffar Guedi, to find out more about
the recent media focus on the trash problem and how the
Voirie plans to solve it. End Summary.

2. (C) For Djibouti, trash is a problem endemic to every
region of the country, but most especially the capital city.
Empty lots and shoulders of almost every road in the city
quickly become the neighborhood dump. The prevalent attitude
in Djibouti is "beyond my wall is not my problem." The
government's lack of resources to effectively enforce
littering laws in recent years has reinforced the public's
apathetic view towards the trash problem and has made it
acceptable to dump trash in any available spot. The sewage
system in Djibouti is for all intents and purposes
non-existent. The pipes that are in working order feed
directly into the ocean not more than a mile from the nearest
public beach. Several of the more popular beaches in
Djibouti are now abandoned because of the pollution. These
sewer outlets have become popular places to dump household
trash and even the neighborhood toilet. Sewer backups
frequently create puddles with an indescribable stench all
over the city which remain until the sun dries them out. The
potential for health hazards from the trash and sewage
problems are numerous, including being breeding grounds for
malaria carrying mosquitoes.

3. (U) The Technical Service of Djibouti, known as the Voirie
in French, is responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of
the city. It is now their task to educate the Djiboutian
people about the laws pertaining to proper trash disposal,
fines for littering, and the potential economic and health
risks that come with a city riddled with illegal trash dumps.
The Director of the Voirie, Djaffar Guedi commented to
Pol/Econ that the problem had to be attacked very slowly and
continuously in order to make any progress. The campaign
started this month shows that mentality. Since the campaign
began, the government run newspaper La Nation has devoted
space to the announcement of the poster contest. It has also
carried the proclamation of the current trash disposal law,
the proclamation of all trash regulations and a statement by
the Voirie informing the public that surveillance teams will
begin monitoring trash disposal in all neighborhoods and
fines will be levied. According to Guedi, the Voirie is
planning to air the same announcements on the radio to reach
the illiterate population. La Nation also ran several
articles and editorials prior to the campaign regarding the
state of neglect the city is in, citing the citizens of
Djibouti as the primary cause of the problem.

4. (U) Guedi explained the thought process behind the poster
contest and media awareness campaign as trying to get
Djiboutian citizens to first realize that it is their own
responsibility to keep the city clean. He said once the
population is fully aware that there are laws regulating the
disposal of trash, the Voirie will start enforcing them.
Guedi indicated that the Voirie's initial plan was to
institute a 5,000 DF (roughly 30 USD) fine for each littering
offense. Considering the average Djiboutian household makes
around 1,200 USD annually, the fine is almost excessively
steep. Guedi responded to Pol/Econ's shock at the amount by
saying if someone has to pay once, they'll never litter again
to avoid paying twice.

5. (U) Guedi stated that the entire campaign would start with
the poster contest to make people aware, followed with a
campaign to get people to use proper trash bags, enforcement
of disposal laws, removing illegal street vendors, reducing
the stray animal population, and continued regular trash
pick-ups. Pol/Econ inquired who would be responsible for
picking up the trash that already infests the streets of
Djibouti. Guedi replied each Friday, the Voirie conducts
clean up operations in a different sector of the city. The
Voirie supplies rakes, shovels and trucks to haul the trash
away but works in coordination with community associations
for manpower. Guedi commented that so far, more women were
participating in the clean up days than men.

6. (C) Guedi cited a major problem in the campaign as being
the lack of adequate disposal facilities. He commented that
already the official city dump in Balbala was closed due to
overfill and the city dump at Douda would soon reach
capacity. Pol/Econ inquired as to why the Voirie was not
using the incinerator donated by Camp Lemonier to mitigate
some of the disposal problem. Guedi replied that the
"incinerator" was more of a large cooking pot and was not
capable of handling the loads of trash produced by the city's
several hundred thousand residents. He continued that the
incinerator given by the camp could only be used for one type
of trash, like wood, and that it was impossible to sort as
much trash as the city threw away. (Note: The incinerator
given by CJTF-HOA to the Government of Djibouti was intended
to be a tool to help manage the trash problem, not solve it
entirely in one go. Civil affairs teams at Camp Lemonier
reportedly made exhaustive efforts to train the Djiboutian
sanitation workers. However, training sessions were
repeatedly missed by the Djiboutians, rescheduled and missed
again. Information from the manufacturer of the incinerator
indicate that it is not meant strictly for wood, but burned
wood and other paper products as a source of energy. This is
meant to aid its use in areas where oil and gas supplies can
be inconsistent or expensive. The manufacturer did say the
incinerator required the trash burned to be sorted by type
and that some items, by nature, would not be able to be
destroyed by fire. End Note.)

7. (C) Guedi said that Camp Lemonier had requested the
Government of Djibouti move Douda dump to a different
location. (Note: Conversations with Camp officials indicate
that a request to physically move the dump was not made.
However, in current lease negotiations there is a requested
provision to the lease to mandate that no trash is burned
within 15 nautical miles of the Camp's boundaries to prevent
the sometimes noxious smoke that blows into Camp Lemonier.
End Note.) He continued that studies would have to be done to
find an adequate area. Guedi then asked whether the U.S.
Embassy or USAID would be able to assist the Voirie in the
analysis of new sites for landfills. Pol/Econ said she did
not know which agency is better placed to address such
proposals. Pol/Econ continued that if the Voirie sent a
detailed proposal to the Embassy, both agencies could review
it and see if any resources could be found to help.

8. (U) Pol/Econ also suggested that if the government was
really serious about changing the mentality of the population
it would have to set an example. She cited a project
currently in the planning stages between Embassy's Public
Affairs section and the City of Tadjourah for a Clean Up
Tadjourah Day. The project was initiated by a civic
association in Tadjourah who submitted a grant request for
assistance from the Embassy. Pol/Econ suggested that perhaps
Djibouti City could organize something similar with the
participation of Ministers or even the President. She
commented that Embassy programs could potentially assist in
the planning and such a program would be a great way for the
population to see that the government was truly concerned.

9. (C) Comment: Many Djiboutians will say that the trash
problem has been steadily increasing in the past ten years
with very little government action to fix it. According to
Embassy local staff, there have been sporadic campaigns to
clean up the city and enforce the laws, often around
elections. The past campaigns have not worked well because
there was little government follow through. One push to clean
up the city in the early 1990's involved the city mayor
confiscating all stray goats and sending them to prison, as
food for the inmates. It is hard to tell whether this plan
will work any better than previous ones, but in recent weeks
Embassy officers have seen more frequent appearances of the
often elusive trash trucks and even street cleaning teams
sweeping at night. Many suspect that this campaign is merely
a pre-election push to show voters how much the current
administration does for them. Post is highly suspect of the
will of the Government or even the Voirie to change or
improve the trash situation. Guedi's commentary on the
usefulness of the incinerator, combined with information from
the Camp regarding unwillingness of the Voirie to learn how
to use it suggests a tendency toward excusing inaction rather
than fixing a serious national problem. End Comment.