Solid waste is a major problem for cities in developing countries. It is considered to be a big challenge because it needs commitment, time and effort from businesses and householders to practise reduction, reuse and recycling. It also requires major financial investment as well as infrastructure development. A well-planned collection and transfer process can lead to significant reductions in the overall cost of waste management.
The national Solid Waste Management Proclamation sets out the regulations for waste management in Ethiopia. Its overall aim is to ‘… prevent the possible adverse impacts while creating economically and socially beneficial assets out of solid waste.’ (FDRE, 2007).
Among its clauses, the Proclamation makes urban administrations responsible for producing and implementing solid waste management plans. At the practical level, administrations are required to install waste bins in streets and public places, and to collect waste from these bins often enough to prevent them overflowing.
Ethiopia has a long way to go to achieve adequate waste collection systems in all its towns and cities. For example, in Addis Ababa, only 65% of the city’s solid waste was collected in 2003 (Regassa et al., 2011). More recent data indicates that this figure has since increased to 80% (Tessema, 2010; PPIAF, 2011). Even so, the city still has considerable progress to make. In other towns, the situation is worse. In Dessie, 48% of residents practise ‘open dumping’ of their waste (Sharma et al., 2012). In other words they deposit it on the roadside, on abandoned land, in open sewers or river banks, or around their yard. In Bahir Dar the collection rate was estimated in 2010 to be 67% and in Mekelle, until recently, only a third of total waste generated was collected by the municipality (Tefera and Negussie, 2015).
You read about some of the negative effects of poor solid waste management in Study Session 2. Make a list of the benefits to everyone of having a good waste collection system.
Your list will probably include the following. A good waste collection system can:
- reduce the number of flies, rodents and other scavenging animals that can spread diseases
- keep drains clear avoiding flooding and contamination of watercourses
- make the area more pleasant
- encourage people to look after their area
- encourage businesses to stay in the area or others to move there
- help to build a healthier society where people can earn more money and children can gain more from their schooling.
In Ethiopia and many other developing countries, collection is the most expensive stage of the waste management process chain – one estimate suggests that it demands 50–70% of the total budget (Tchobanogous and Kreith, 2002). So it is important that an effective collection system is in place.