As if it were a war, El Tucan Environmental Association, located in the San Martin neighborhood of Nicoya, decided to attack the focal points of pollution in clandestine dumps.
Armed with brooms, shovels, machetes, rakes, gloves and bags, an army of 24 residents, mostly women, go around the dumps collecting, separating, burning and burying scraps.
Manuel Cordero, legal adviser of the association, recalled that the group was formed 18 years ago because there was an outbreak of conjunctivitis in Nicoya. “We discovered that the cases of conjunctivitis were due to one Sayol (a species of fly) that came from breeding grounds in the garbage. They hit people in the eye and gave them conjunctivitis. That was how we started to attack garbage,” he commented.
The Municipality of Nicoya and the association signed an agreement in June, in which the mayor agrees to pay ¢2,000,000 ($3,775) for the purchase ofcleaning and work supplies for the group’svolunteersfor a period of six months. Although the workers already started, the agreement is waiting for approval from the Municipal Council, which could be given inearly August.
“The agreement is to have the necessary materials to continue doing our work, because the municipality commits to collecting what we are going topick. We already started watching all of the rural roads. The agreement is from July to December,” Cordero stated.
The idea is that all of the materials selected by the volunteers will be brought by the municipality to the recycling collection center in Nicoya or the landfill in Santa Cruz.
Two years ago, the El Tucan Association received a donation of ¢3,000,000 (about $6000 then)from the municipality for maintenance of Recaredo Briceño Park and the public streets in the area.
“The goal is to try to eliminate the clandestine dumps and give this environmental organization basic resources to clean up landfills,” said Mayor Marcos Jimenez.
Among the areas with clandestine dumps that have been identified are: the road to Quiriman near the Perico River, in the sector known as the hill road to San Antonio, in the areas surrounding the wastewater treatment lagoons, as well as in the sector near the Rio Grande in the El Carmen neighborhood and in Sabana Grande.
In conjunction with this initiative, themayor’s office plans to develop a remedial plan in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and thereby join efforts in the fight against open air garbage dumps.
“The huge amount of mosquitoes that we have and the pollution is due to open air garbage dumps. We enter lots, collect materials and mollify dengue. We are all volunteers. If we don’tdo it for ourselves and our neighbors, nobody is going to do it,” Cordero stated.