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La Chureca: Living In Garbage

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca

Toxic Fumes at La Chureca Landfill Near Lake Managua

Managua, Nicaragua

La Chureca is the largest garbage dump in Central America. It’s located on the outskirts of Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua and covers over 4 square miles (7 sq. km). One thousand people live & work on the “City of Trash” every day.

Getting here was not easy, and traipsing through burning, rotting garbage wasn’t exactly a picnic either. But the hardest part of all was bearing witness to the way of life these people have to live.

They are called Churequeros. Their homes are made of trash. They scavenge through the garbage for food. Every day they search for scraps of plastic, cans, and glass to sell for recycling. This is how they make a living.

There is an elementary school located on the dump with 6 classrooms. But once kids have graduated, they don’t have many options. Most start working long hours in the landfill every day with the rest of the family. The people who live at La Chureca live a tough life, but still they are friendly and proud.

The following images are my attempt to share what goes on here. It’s not pretty, but it’s real.

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Workers

Men Searching for Scraps of Glass & Plastic to Sell for Recycling

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Scavengers

Vultures, Cows, and Wild Horses Pick Through Garbage with People

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Dead Animals

Dead Animals, Bio-Waste, and Rotting Food are Constant Health Hazards

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Home

Families Live on the Dump in Homes made of Trash

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Woman

Woman Sweeps Garbage from Her Dirt-Floor Home

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca School Boy

Local Boy Waits for Class to Start at School

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Dirty Water

Pond Filled with Trash & Green Sludge

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Children Workers

11 Year Old José Breathes in Toxic Fumes While Scavenging

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Burning Garbage

Garbage is Burned All Day, Dangerous Chemicals & Heavy Metals Included

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Worker

Churequero Man Starts his Long Day of Working on the Landfill

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Kids

La Chureca Kids have a Bleak Future and a Hard Life

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Location: Managua, Nicaragua [Map]

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Here are a few more travel articles that I recommend you read next:

Did you know people live this way? Ever heard of La Chureca? Share with us in the comments below!

B. Anna Baird

Wednesday 18th of July 2018

Hi! These pictures seem to be a bit outdated. The Government of Spain has gone to great lengths to finally correct the horrible and sub-human conditions at La Chureca! The dump has been sealed and there is a new recycling plant, along with jobs and housing for many of the families that were "living" there.

Jessie Bostic

Saturday 26th of September 2020

As of 2016, there still many people living and working in the dump in Nicaragua, where this is. I met and spoke with them while working in the neighborhood next to them Solidardid.

LInda MI

Saturday 2nd of September 2017

My Name is Linda Miranda, I am insteredted on visiting la chureca for a comunitu service proyect any advice?

Brenda Anne Du Faur

Tuesday 27th of June 2017

My God in Heaven, what can one utter? Yes, I knew about this horrible reality of people living in a giant dump because of a feature on television. I saw the beautiful young woman who was trying to help them. I remember the feature saying that a few blocks away were elegant hotels where there were huge buffets of endless food for the hotel guests that they couldnt even begin to eat all of it so there must have been so so much food left over and gone to waste. Touirsts are indulging in elaborate buffets just a few blocks away and all these people in their native land are digging in mountains of trash for food scraps? Both humans (and animals) not getting enough food so hugely. Why is this? At the very least an organization should be created whereby establishnents with left over food should give it to the humans and animals living in the trash. Something must be done. This is unacceptable. That is only the first step. The second step is getting them out of the trash, and putting them in a civilized environment. The head of this country can't do better by their own people? It's outrageous. It's deplorable. How dare they.

Maryjane Hartz Westra

Monday 28th of April 2014

Thank you for your photos. I had a similar experience in the Guatemala City Dump. I was not allowed to take photos (dangerous) but I managed to snap a few. Forever I carry the mental picture of a small child reaching down to a pile of garbage, picking something unrecognizable up, examining it and eating it. Matthew, regarding your statement "we all have to help ourselves." I can't agree. Katrina, 9/11, Wild Fires are catastrophic events and how can people help themselves? We are so lucky in the U.S. to have government disaster services such as police, fire fighters, Red Cross (OK, not government, but you get the picture) and FEMA. We also have social security, disability funds, food stamps, rent assistance and other programs which help elderly, children, hardworking people and people are who disabled through no fault of their own. There, I said it!


Sunday 20th of April 2014

damn that's a pretty harsh way to live, quite similar to some of the scenes in slumdog milliionaire. nice pics and cheers for sharing

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