Honorable Mention TOKYO-2017 Editorial / Political

Forgotten faces of the dump

  • Photographer
    ROB Walbers

Mongolia, often called the Land of Blue Skies, is a popular holiday destination for some, but means a life of bitter harsh reality, day after day for others. Hundreds of thousand of people have moved to Ulaanbaatar over the last few years, drawn by the promise of well-payed jobs and luxury life. Many are fleeing the harsh conditions of the life in the countryside, brought by climate change. Summer droughts and extreme bitter winters have devastated fields and livestock. But city life is not what many had expected. Affordable housing is scarce, homelessness and alcoholism is rising and jobs and wages are hit by the economic slowdown. As a result, the number of scavengers at the garbage dump close to the city, keeps rising. Hidden in between several mountain tops, lays the enormous dump with over 200 trucks a day dumping the city's trash. Anonymous black silhouettes flock around every new truck to get the best out of the new delivery. Every time competing each other, cows, birds and dogs in the battle to find goods that can provide for their daily life.