Waste Management

Case Study:

Waste Management



The Background

A lack of adequate waste management infrastructure is a global issue affecting three billion people. 40% of the world’s waste is not collected or treated, but is instead discarded in open dumps or burned. This is a direct cause of serious health issues – including gastrointestinal and respiratory infections (especially in children) – and also encourages vermin and the spread of viral disease. A lack of waste management has harmful environmental consequences; blocked drainage contributes to flooding and the release of poisonous chemicals during processes of decomposition and burning causes air pollution, groundwater pollution and ocean contamination. This is one of the great public health issues of our time.

And the issue is getting worse. The populations of developing countries are growing. More waste is being produced than ever before.

Like many detrimental global trends, the effects are felt worse in developing countries. Municipal infrastructure has not caught up with rapid urbanization, population growth and the expansion of the global middle class. Lower income cities in Africa and Asia are set to double their municipal solid waste generation within 15-20 years. And, as only 0.3% of international development aid is spent on waste management, the issue risks being overlooked by the global sustainable development agenda.

Solid waste management is an essential service; the costs of inaction outweigh the per capita costs of mitigation by 5-10 fold. But affordability is a major challenge in poorer countries. A truly sustainable waste management system – where the life cycle of every product is designed to reduce its end of use impact – is, at present, a pipe dream. Emphasis must be placed upon reducing uncontrolled dumping and burning, by using less and re-using more.

(Extracts from Waste Management in Naivasha Basin Report)

Waste Management in Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Communities surrounding Lake Naivasha, (80km north of Nairobi, Kenya), are experiencing the full range of issues associated with a lack of sustainable waste management systems. Lake Naivasha is nominally a Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance) and previously attracted scores of tourists travelling through the Rift Valley. In recent decades, the region has become one of Kenya’s most prosperous economic powerhouses. During the 1970s, the agricultural industry began to develop large swathes of the Naivasha basin for the production of cut flowers and vegetables, incentivized by the plentiful supply of fresh water and a temperate climate. Development has not stopped since; in 2011, the vegetables grown in Lake Naivasha contributed $95 million to the Kenyan economy. 95% of Kenya’s exports of cut flowers are produced in the region (WWF, 2011).

Such rapid economic growth creates the pre-requisite conditions for mass inward-migration. Between 1979 and 2011, the population of the basin grew 173%, from 237,902 to around 650,000 (WWF, 2011). Developments, both formal and informal, have sprung up around the flower farms and continue to grow in size year-on-year.

One of those places to have experienced significant population increase is Kwa Muhia, the smallest informal settlement (2,100 households in size) on the southern shore of the lake. The village was built without infrastructure (drainage or sewage systems) and practically no utilities; living conditions are not dissimilar to those of Kibera, the well-known slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Like many of the communities surrounding the basin, the rapid population increase has not been matched by developments in municipal waste collection services and, despite the fact that families and landlords pay their taxes, management systems have proved inadequate. As a result, waste of all kinds is thrown out into the streets and onto roads, is buried or burnt.

Besides the health implications for the local population and livestock, waste is washed into the lake during the rainy season causing damaging pollution. In previous years, the condition of the Lake has deteriorated to such an extent that its Ramsar status is in danger of being revoked.

The Partners

Kwa Muhia Environmental Group (KMEG)

A group of residents wanted to help find a solution to the problems in the village and so, in 2011, formed the Kwa Muhia Environmental Group (KMEG). The Group is comprised of both male and female community members with an interest in reforming poor waste management practices. Importantly, all of the committee members are plot-owners (representing roughly 1% of the Kwa Muhia community), which has implications as discussed later. Nevertheless, KMEG is a well-structured organisation, headed by Duncan Oloo (Chairman) with an elected Secretary, Treasurer and Member for Gender Diversity. Their ethos: to encourage social inclusion and a more sustainable lifestyle. Their aim: to become a model “green village” and to set an example for other communities – across the developing world – to follow.

WasteAid UK

WasteAid UK is an independent, UK registered charity (1160263) created in January 2015 with 3 objectives:

  • To deliver improved health, environmental and livelihood outcomes in those communities that receive no formal waste collection or disposal
  • To raise awareness of the problems caused by lack of decent solid waste management
To share ideas and good practice between those organisations and waste managers that are addressing these challenges.
  • Waste Aid have experience in working with partners in West Africa to help communities in The Gambia and Senegal address their waste emergency. They also work on projects in India and Cambodia.

The Proposal & Arkleton Trust Involvement

The Kwa Muhia Environmental Group were seeking funding from the Arkleton Trust to enable an experienced waste management professional to visit Kwa Muhia and advise on the scaling-up of a sustainable waste management strategy within the community.

Previously, in the summer of 2015 the Arkleton Trust helped finance a study, undertaken by members of the Kwa Muhia Environmental Group, to measure the quantity and composition of waste produced in the village of Kamere. With this data now at hand, the Group have succeeded in bringing the project up to a point where detailed technical knowledge is needed to advise on the most efficient and feasible waste management strategy for the village.

The funds acquired from the Arkleton Trust paid for WasteAid consultant Mike Webster to visit Kwa Muhia and Kamere for eight days at the end of February 2016. To provide a conclusive assessment it was essential that Mike was able to gain a holistic insight into the nature of the issues that the village is facing, taking into account geographical, socio-economic and political complexities. With this in mind, it was essential that Mike visited Kwa Muhia instead of providing consultancy services from a distance. Mike possesses expert knowledge and a wealth of relevant experience that will be invaluable in moving the project forward. Whilst in Kwa Muhia Mike lead workshops with local stakeholders, and also produced a written strategy framework and implementation workplan to help ensure that momentum established during the week was maintained. Specifically, Mike undertook:

  • A rapid assessment of current waste management situation, visual audit, interviews with government and other non-governmental actors;
  • A train-the-trainer workshop for the Group leaders. This addressed the environmental and public health impacts of waste; basic approaches and principles for better management; introduction to setting up a recycling business;
  • A written report with recommendations towards: Identifying waste streams that can be diverted from disposal, with a view to 
maximise diversion from the residual waste stream and maximising livelihood 
Improving management of residual waste to reduce local environmental and 
public health impact;
  • A work-plan framework for future action, focusing on ensuring practical and financial 
sustainability of a waste collection reprocessing operation.

Full report


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