Collecting rubbish to prevent dengue fever

As part of a campaign to prevent the spread of dengue fever, I joined staff from Arenas del Mar to help in a two-day clear up of the nearby village La Inmaculada. The aim was to collect any old washing machines, buckets, sinks and other containers which can collect rainwater and provide the perfect place for the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main type that transmits the dengue fever virus, to lay her eggs. Most types of mosquito will lay their eggs in any type of water. However, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes will only lay their eggs in clean water, hence the need to remove any items in populated areas that can collect rainwater.

I took part in the second day of the campaign. We arrived in the village just before 8am, parked by the local football pitch (every village, no matter how small, seems to have a well-manicured pitch), admired the surrounding mountains and waited for everyone else to arrive.

La Inmaculada football pitch and mountains

Ten minutes later we were met by a large truck that would be taking away all the rubbish we hoped to collect. I was quite surprised to see the guys riding in the back, and it actually made me kind of jealous – it’s not the sort of thing you get to do every day back home.

rubbish collection

Our first task was to drive around the village, inform people about the campaign and ask them to leave any old containers on the street so that the truck could collect them. Below is a shot of Rodbin, the bellboy manager at the hotel, spreading the word.

Rodbin spreading the word in La Inmaculada

Most of the roads in the village were unpaved and the houses were made of brightly painted concrete with tin roofs.

Unpaved roads

Chickens and a local dog


Occasionally we came across some houses that much more luxurious. It was easy to distinguish between the haves and the have-nots.

Large house in La Inmaculada

A shed in La Inmaculada

The locals were really grateful for our help and there were soon piles of old buckets, pots and the occasional washing machine standing in the street waiting to be collected. Within a few hours the back of the truck was already half full – the campaign was working!


And I finally got to ride in the back!

Riding in the truck

One local asked us to help him clear some old building materials that were in his front garden. Many people in the village don’t have cars, which makes it difficult for them to transport their waste to the local dump. The campaign team were more than happy to help – the only problem was that the road was too steep and narrow for the truck to drive down. We therefore collected the largest pieces using the pickup truck and then carried the smaller pieces individually.

Clearing rubbish in La Inmaculada


After all the hard work it was great to laugh and relax in the shade with some food and cold drinks.



  1. jajaja, tarros, refrigeradores you really put effort into this!

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