Egypt kills pigs to stop swine flu. Now garbage is piling up

zabaleen pigs

Swine flu panic in Egypt caused the government to order the killing of all pigs, in the mistaken belief they could carry the virus. 300,000 were slaughtered.

Now trash is piling up everywhere because their countries freelance trash collectors, the zabaleen, used pigs to eat the garbage. Then they’d sort through what was left finding stuff to recycle and sell. Plus, they could sell the pigs to meat processors.

But once the pigs were killed, their business went away. Now there is no one picking up garbage in the cities of Egypt.

“You could always count on the zabaleen,” said Fayez Aissa, 51, who oversees an apartment block. “They came every day, took everything. Now rats and snakes are hiding in our garbage.”

  • melissa

    A documentary, “Marina of the Zabbaleen”, was just released in select theaters and on DVD.

    The film is about a 7-year-old girl (Marina) who lives at the base of a mountain in Cairo, Egypt. Her village (Muqqattam) is a community of Zabbaleen — or Zabaleen 😉 — whose entrepreneurial waste management system produces the highest recycling rate in the world.

    It premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, won a Muhr Award at the 2008 Dubai International Film Festival, and was reviewed by The New York Times –-

    It’s also the first feature film to use a new eco-friendly DVD technology (the “Flex DVD”), which uses 50% less plastic than traditional DVDs, reduces the carbon footprint by 50%, and eliminates the need for a non-biodegradable bonder. Also, the rest of the packaging is made from 95% recycled materials. ALSO, the marketing campaign for the film has been completely paperless.

    There’s some more info about the film and the Flex DVD at

    Oh, and the company that’s releasing “Marina” (Torch Films) is giving 10% of gross revenues to help the Zabbaleen recover from their dislocation (caused by the pig cull).

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