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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lesotho: A Hell of Gap Jeans

African dream turns sour for orphan army - Times Online
Gap’s decision to develop the production of jeans and T-shirts in Lesotho had heralded an era of opportunity for one of the world’s poorest nations but a Sunday Times investigation has exposed an unforeseen consequence of that commitment - the dumping of tons of waste, much of it dangerous, at unsecured municipal sites.

Over the past 12 months the child rag pickers have been attracted to garment dumps by the denim and plastic thrown away by a Taiwanese supplier whose clients include both Gap and Levi Strauss.

Such is the ubiquity of denim and cotton waste in Lesotho that garment refuse has replaced charcoal as cooking fuel. Alarmingly, for the two San Francisco-based firms, the waste dumped by their suppliers Nien Hsing and Formosa Textile - both part of the Nien Hsing Fashion Group - includes harmful chemicals, needles and razors.

Each day it is painstakingly picked over by children and mothers with ailing infants strapped to their backs in a community ravaged by HIV. Not only that, but Nien Hsing is leaking chemical effluent into a river from which cooking water is drawn.

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