For half a century, the Koshe dump site has been the only landfill in Addis Ababa. As the city has expanded, the landfill – which used to lie on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital – has become part of the urban landscape, sprawling over an area the size of 36 football pitches and attracting hundreds of waste pickers who make their living from salvaged trash. Earlier this year, a landslide on the dump site killed 114 people, prompting the government to declare three days of mourning.
But a new waste-to-energy plant is set to transform the site and revolutionize the entire city’s approach to dealing with waste. The plant, which is due to begin operating in January, will incinerate 1,400 tons of waste every day – that’s roughly 80 per cent of the city’s rubbish – all while supplying Addis with 30 per cent of its household electricity needs and meeting European standards on air emissions.