Research then Action for Solid Waste Management

                                                              

Research then Action for Solid Waste Management

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Solution proposed by: 
WasteAID (Presented during the Healthy and Just Cities Urban Thinkers Campus, hosted by World Vision International)
In a Nutshell: 
Solid waste projects can fail due to an inadequate understanding of local waste generation patterns, the potential for local value chains and local communities’ ability and willingness to engage in waste management activities. This approach identifies the pre-implementation research as the most critical determinant for the likelihood of success and sustainability of project implementation.
Where and When: 
This urban solution is based on the work completed in conjunction with the Brikama Area Council, Concern Universal and WasteAid UK in The Gambia (West Africa). The project was initiated in 2013 and has been continuing until now
Challenges: 
At the start of the project in the Brikama area the disposal facilities for municipal solid waste were inadequate (and almost non-existent), there was very limited collection capacity and growing pressure from the population for change. The traditional municipal model of waste collection in many developing countries is failing – communities are already being left to manage their own waste. Therefore, a better model based on value chains that empower the waste producer to be responsible for their waste is required. This can be achieved through local value chains that create value in waste materials. But to understand and maximize these value chains in-depth local and contextualised knowledge is required.
Innovation: 
The innovation in this urban solution it the degree to which WasteAid UK emphasize the importance of local research and knowledge generation before investing in solid waste management interventions. This is innovative because, while most grants and solid waste management project allow for pre-implementation research and planning, not many projects invest the degree of time, energy nor resources that WasteAid UK advocates for. WasteAid suggests that this results in many sub-optimal program outcomes.
Concept: 
The concept of this solution is that through allowing more significant resources than the traditional research component (WasteAid UK advocates for a minimum of 6 months and suitable associated budget) to collect and analysis location specific knowledge there will be increased economic viability, community and political commitment, and overall rates of project success. Before beginning any practical intervention, this approach suggests that research should be completed to address each of the following four points: (i) Understand the character of waste generation (ii) Understand the local attitudes towards waste and waste handling (iii) Understand the governance of waste and its dynamics (iv) Understand the opportunities and constraints for reprocessing and value chains for business development.
Description: 
WasteAid UK invested 7 months in initial research – this included the manual sorting and analysis of 2.5 tons of waste that had been collected from household and markets. The analysis showed that there were surprising lower amounts of glass, paper, PET bottles, metals and organics than would traditionally be expected in municipal solid waste. This demonstrated that had WasteAid not undertaken this research and if they pursued the traditional recycling choices of glass, PET bottles and paper, these recycling schemes may have struggled. Rather, WasteAid and their partners were able to the results of the waste composition study to identify four key technologies that would be able to address about 60% of the waste that was produced. (i) Carbon rich organic waste into charcoal briquettes; (ii) LDPE plastic into floor tiles; (iii) Fish waste into fertilizer and animal feed; and (iv)Composting for horticultural and residential purposes. While these solutions are not prescriptive for other locations they demonstrate the value of investing in adequate research prior to beginning any solid waste management project.
Impacts: 
• Training for 40 waste entrepreneurs – ongoing training and mentoring of these and other entrepreneurs; Ongoing funding, provided locally and internationally, has allowed the partner organisation to train upwards of 150 entrepreneurs and this is ongoing • Development of community waste capacity; and • Partnership with universities and interest from Senegal and The Gambia to replicate in other areas

Photo Gallery

photo credits: Waste Aid UK
photo credits: Waste Aid UK