Sustainable Waste Management in Africa

In African countries experiencing economic growth, increased population and rapid urbanization– waste management has become a constant thorn in their sides.  Aided by the rejection of common waste management practices by environmental lobbyists due to the dire negative impact on the environment, this has made the disposal of waste more difficult.

For instance, more than 70 percent of Dar es Salaam’s population live in unplanned settlements and this makes waste collection in such areas extremely difficult. For lack of a better option the residents are left to burning and dumping their household garbage along rivers or roads. Sustainable Cities International (SCI) has collaborated with community based organizations such as the Kisiwani Environmental Group (KEG) to help Dar es Salaam create sustainable waste management solutions in these unplanned settlements all around the city. Groups like KEG are tasked with collecting household waste by loading them in push carts. Since more than half of the household waste collected is organic, this presents a great opportunity for the community groups to generate more income by turning the organic waste into high quality compost that is sold to the urban farming community in the city.

SCI in cooperation with Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) collaborate with the community groups in building their capacity on waste management by providing equipment and protective clothing, training and expanding their activities into recycling and composting activities. By charging the households for their service, additional revenue generated will allow the group members to improve their livelihoods and as an added bonus significantly reduce the waste that’s transported to the dump sites- transport being the highest cost of waste collection. 

solid waste
(Image courtesy BORDA)

These community based organizations are also coordinating meetings where the municipalities and the various community groups can share ideas and practices as well as discuss policy matters to create incentives such as long term contracts, enforcing household payments and creating a databases of residents served. 
SCI has been working hand in hand with the KEG group to manage a solid waste and composting program mainly in building capacity and documenting the progress so as to replicate the experience in other areas in the city. The long term goal is to see such groups grow into self-sustaining businesses that will improve their services and generate profits as well as act as community leaders by creating awareness of waste separation and other green living practices.