Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Donkeys at dawn: a rubbish job in the Algiers Kasbah
By Amal Belalloufi
Algiers (AFP) June 19, 2017

It's a rubbish job, but someone has to do it. Or some animal: in the alleyways of Algiers' famed Kasbah, donkeys shift tonnes of trash every day.

Some streets in the Kasbah are so narrow that single file is necessary. Others are wider but are steep and stepped, ruling out more usual rubbish collection methods.

Hence the resort to animal power to keep this World Heritage Site clean.

UNESCO calls the Algerian capital's Kasbah "an outstanding example of a historic Maghreb city", and says it greatly influenced town-planning in the western Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa.

But without its donkeys loaded with huge panniers and accompanied by their green-uniformed handlers, the Kasbah would sink under the weight of its own refuse.

At dawn, the dozen garbage collectors of the Kasbah "saddle up" their charges with "chouaris", home-made baskets made of rushes, and climb the long stairs to Bab J'did, one of the gates of the old city.

There the teams split up and go their separate routes. The donkeys know their rounds off by heart.

Man and beast negotiate the vertiginous streets of this medina built during the 10th century under Zirid rule, a dynasty of Berber origin that reigned over most of the Maghreb.

Sprawling over some 105 hectares (260 acres), the Kasbah is a mass muddle of buildings constructed on a steep uneven slope 118 metres (nearly 400 feet) in height.

Some houses are so old and dilapidated that they would collapse if not propped up by wooden or metal beams.

- Scavenging alley cats -

The collectors gather the rubbish in bags or by hand, and once a "chouari" is full, the donkey goes all the way back to the top where its load is transferred to trucks.

Each donkey load weighs up to 50 kilos, and more than two tonnes of trash are collected every day.

Come rain, shine or searing summer heat, the Kasbah Horse Unit as it is officially known works a seven-day week.

This method of garbage gathering dates back to the arrival in Algiers of the Ottomans in the 16th century.

Despite constant collections, the waste quickly piles up again.

"We're doing about 10 rounds" a day, sighed weather-beaten 57-year-old Amer Moussa who said he was looking forward to retirement.

If the task wasn't difficult enough already, Moussa said he was tired of rubbish being thrown anywhere, and rubble or old furniture being chucked away with household waste.

Vacant lots where homes once stood have become dumping grounds where scavenging alley cats root through rubbish.

Kadour Hanafi, now an executive with Netcom which handles garbage collection in the city, is himself a former rubbish collector in the Kasbah.

He said some Kasbadjis, as the residents are known, look upon them with contempt.

Bad jokes as they pass are common: "Look, there's a donkey -- and there's a donkey with him."

Abdellah Khenfoussi, a Netcom official who grew up in the Kasbah and still lives there, fondly remembers a time when residents would wash down the paved streets every morning.

- Historic district -

Fatma, wearing the long white "haik" dress of Algerian women, rails against the sordid conditions into which the area has sunk.

"It used to be well-kept," the 74-year-old said of the Kasbah, which in 1957 was the heart of the Battle of Algiers during the 1954-1962 war of independence against France.

"Everyone knew everyone else and we all helped clean up. But now most of the original residents have left, and new arrivals have no idea of the Kasbah's (historic) value," Fatma said.

After climbing and descending for seven or eight hours, which is exhausting for both collector and donkey, the dawn patrol returns to the stables.

The late shift then takes over. Throughout the day, donkeys and green boiler-suited collectors are a regular sight in the historic district.

There are 52 donkeys in the Kasbah Horse Unit, acquired in the same manner as official vehicles -- by public tender, said Netcom communications head Nassima Yakoubi.

Each animal must be in good physical shape, be upwards of 1.5 metres (five feet) in height and weigh more than 100 kilos (220 pounds).

They join the unit aged between four and eight, and have a working life of around 20 years.

You might expect that the animals then enjoy a well-earned retirement, maybe at the zoo.

That is indeed their destination, but not as residents: to the anguish of their former companions the rubbish collectors, the worn out donkeys of the Algiers Kasbah become lunch for lions.

Lab on a chip could monitor health, germs and pollutants
New Brunswick NJ (SPX) Jun 16, 2017
Imagine wearing a device that continuously analyzes your sweat or blood for different types of biomarkers, such as proteins that show you may have breast cancer or lung cancer. Rutgers engineers have invented biosensor technology - known as a lab on a chip - that could be used in hand-held or wearable devices to monitor your health and exposure to dangerous bacteria, viruses and pollutants ... read more

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Portugal forest fire kills 24, injures 20

As homelands devastated, Indonesian tribe turns to Islam

Rescuers battle to reach victims of deadly Bangladesh landslides

Europe's dilemma - how to deal with returning jihadists

Oyster shells inspire new method to make superstrong, flexible polymers

Study explains how jewel scarab beetles appear golden

New technique enables 3-D printing with paste of silicone particles in water

Magnets, all the way down

NASA Data Suggest Future May Be Rainier Than Expected

'Plankton explosion' turns Istanbul's Bosphorus turquoise

Seeing inside coral

Flint water scandal prompts manslaughter charge for health chief

Finding new homes won't help Emperor penguins cope with climate change

Blight or blessing? How the wolverine embodies Arctic diversity

Domes of frozen methane may be warning signs for new blow-outs

Geoscientific evidence for subglacial lakes

Study: To save planet, humans must alter diet and farming methods

Carrefour pulls dog meat from shelves in China

One million sign petition for EU weedkiller ban

Call for more electric fences to stop elephants destroying Gabon crops

Rising sea levels will boost moderate floods in some areas, severe floods in others

9 children killed as houses collapse in rains in Niger: officials

Five dead after strong quake hits Guatemala

Greek island picks up the pieces after 6.3-magnitude quake

France says UN likely to support Sahel anti-jihadist force

Qatar withdraws peacekeepers from Djibouti-Eritrea border

Tunisian soldier dead after landmine blast

Nigerian soldier sentenced to death for 'Boko Haram' murder

In tense times, top conductor creates UN of orchestras

Czech cave dig reveals details of Neanderthal-human transition

Too much brain activity may contribute to memory, attention impairments

Chinese gays hear wedding bells as Taiwan move fuels hope

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement