21 February marks Indonesia’s National Waste Awareness Day to remember the disastrous landslide in the Leuwigajah landfill and draw awareness to the importance of responsible waste management.
On 21st February 2005, Leuwigajah dumpsite in Bandung collapsed after several days of heavy rain and explosions due to sudden biogas release. The collapse of the large garbage mound caused a major landslide.
Around 2.7 million m3 of waste tore through informal neighborhoods. The waste avalanche buried 71 houses and killed 143 people. This tragedy was the second deadliest waste slide in history, after Payatas in the Philippines in 2000 that killed 278 people. In the aftermath, waste collection in Bandung stalled. In lack of a place to store the waste, Bandung, the city which was known as the city of flowers turned into a city of garbage.
Due to the Leuwigajah dumpsite tragedy, Indonesia declared a waste emergency. Since 2006, every 21st February was commemorated as National Waste Awareness Day in Indonesia.
Taking action to improve waste management
In the following years, Indonesia stepped up its efforts to strengthen waste management. The challenges are still severe, but addressing them is high on the political agenda.
In 2008, the waste management law in Indonesia (UU No. 18/2008) was issued. The law includes guidelines for handling of waste, and prohibits irregular burning and open landfills.
Indonesia is also spearheading the region’s efforts to reduce marine plastic pollution. In 2017 the Indonesian government launched a National Plan of Action on Marine Debris that aims to reduce plastic debris by 70 % by 2025. The plan also involves reducing waste in general by 30 % through 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle).
The disaster at Leuwigajah dumpsite illustrates the acute importance of waste management. Responsible management of waste is a necessity to protect the environment, human health and safety.
CLOCC is actively working to improve waste management on community and desa (village) level in Indonesia, in close cooperation with the local partners InSWA (Indonesia Solid Waste Association). InSWA is executing CLOCC’s waste management trainings, data collection and waste management planning workshops.
Through working on grassroot level with a bottom-up approach, CLOCC aims to cooperate with local authorities to strengthen Indonesia's waste management systems.
Authored by Gifta Oktavia, Research Associate InSWA
Reference: Lavigne et al.: The 21 February 2005, catastrophic waste avalanche at Leuwigajah dumpsite, Bandung, Indonesia. Geoenvironmental Disasters 2014 1:10