Buried in Ethiopian dump landslide: a young man and his dream

Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:41pm GMT

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, March 19 (Reuters) - Biniam Alemeneh's father was a construction worker, but the 16-year-old Ethiopian student dreamed of becoming an engineer, inspired by his country's booming economy and the tall glass buildings mushrooming around his home city of Addis Ababa.

On March 11, the colossal mound of rubbish that dominated his neighbourhood collapsed, burying him and at least 114 others and tarnishing the government's carefully polished image of economic progress.

"It took them three days to find my boy," said Biniam's mother Kassanesh, gesturing to a framed photograph of a teenager with a toothy smile and curly mop of hair.

Residents say at least 80 people are still missing after the landslide. Hundreds of people lived next to the 50-year-old Reppi dump, known as "Koshe" or "dirty" in the Amharic language.

The disaster crushed dozens of homes: not just the makeshift shacks of the rubbish pickers, but also brick and concrete houses built with carefully saved cash earned during Ethiopia's recent economic expansion.

The East African country, rapidly becoming a regional powerhouse, is projected to grow by 7.5 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Foreign investment shot up from $500 million in 2008 to $3.5 billion in 2015.

The growth has helped pull millions of Ethiopians out of poverty, but also led to violence, as industrialisation has forced farmers from their land and the government has cracked down on political protests.   Continued...

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