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Kenyans Face Burial in Plastic

April 8, 2003

With AIDS causing some 700 AIDS deaths a day in Kenya, more and more trees are being felled for timber to make wooden coffins, according to Deputy Environmental Minster Wangari Maathai. Stopping the disappearance of the nation's forest cover is becoming an environmental imperative, she believes. Maathai's solution is to use cheap, biodegradable plastic or synthetic coffins. Relatives are now cementing wooden coffins into the ground to prevent thieves from stealing them and reselling them; the use of less valuable plastic coffins would discourage such theft, she said. Responding to concerns that Kenyans would be reluctant to change traditional practices, Maathai said that the use of wooden coffins came from a western Christian tradition. "There are many ways of disposing of our loved ones with a lot of respect, but without jeopardizing our future either," Maathai said. "Converting our trees into coffins is not very good for the living."

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Adapted from:
BBC News

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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