Many of Southeast Asia’s biggest cities — including Manila, Bangkok, and Jakarta — are beset with trash troubles, lacking the funds to replace their antiquated waste disposal systems. Landfills have reached towering heights, and trash is piling up in rivers, bays, and alleys. In Manila, some 30 percent of the city’s trash ends up in waterways or vacant lots, and Jakarta officials estimate that more than 2 tons of garbage is tossed into the city’s waterways each day. Much of the throat-clogging haze that usually lingers over Jakarta can be attributed to the burning of hundreds of piles of garbage. Political leaders in the region are seeking international aid money to help develop waste management facilities.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.