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«SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT IN URBAN CENTERS: THE CASE OF KAMPALA CITY - UGANDA. Jockey B. Nyakaana Department of Geography Makerere University Kampala, ...»

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East African Geographical Review, 19:1



Jockey B. Nyakaana

Department of Geography

Makerere University Kampala,



A deteriorating urban environment is the enemy of sustainable development Protecting

the environment is not an alternative to economic growth - it is a precondition of efficient economic development (UN 1992:25).

Solid waste management is one of the major environmental problems facing city municipalities today. In Kampala City, like other urban centers in Uganda, and in most other developing countries, this important service is based on the local government's centralized collection, transportation and disposal strategy. Currently this approach has proved to be inefficient due to the heavy financial requirements involved. There is an urgent need to provide for the safe disposal of the solid waste generated by urban residents and businesses. The increase in urban, economic and industrial activities, as well as the resultant population increase have led to an increase in the quantity of solid waste generated. One method employed in collecting data included field trips to dump sites which are used by the Kampala City Council (KCC). Monitoring of collection points both in the Central Business District (CBD) and in residential areas was also used.

Interviews were conducted on personnel, both in the City Engineering and Health Departments and on residents in high, medium and low density residential areas. The results of the study indicate that alternative means to waste disposal need to be developed with population growth and economic development in mind. The state of solid waste management in Kampala needs immediate attention if the urban environment is to be saved from further deterioration. This study is an attempt to characterize the composition of s.olid waste in Kampala, and the management options that the KCC has. The study will also suggest ways to alleviate some of the present solid waste management concerns.

Introduction: Background and Significance Modem metropolitan centers consume a great deal of resources including energy, water, food and raw materials, and they also generate large quantities of waste products. The success with which a city can manage these wastes is one indicator of the ability of the organizations within the city to work together to solve major urban environmental problems (Middleton, 1995). There is no single best solution to waste disposal, but a wide range of possibilities exists. Solid waste is at the core of urban environmental problems.

In Uganda, the rapid and often unauthorized growth of the urban areas has in many cases outpaced the ability of the urban authorities to provide adequate housing, roads, water supplies, sewers and collection of solid waste. Although the environmental problems associated with garbage do not disappear with collection, uncollected garbage exacerbates many of the environmental hazards associated with urban centers. Such hazards include fire, pests and disease vectors which create human health problems. Uncontrolled disposal by burning and dumping adds to atmospheric and hydrologic pollution loads, clogs waterways and increases the danger of flooding. This has been experienced in parts of Kampala like Bwaise, Kisenyi, Katwe and Kalerwe. The most pervasive impression of Kampala is that of filth and squalor, unswept streets and lanes, scattered dumps of accumulated trash and refuse whose removal and disposal appear to be beyond the capability of the authorities who are Solid Waste Management in Urban Centers currently in charge. The status of waste management in Kampala, just like in other urban centers in the country, is unhygienic and unsatisfactory.

Solid waste management in the city is the responsibility of the cleaning section within the Engineering Department. They are charged with the collection, transport and disposition of all solid waste, the cleaning of the streets, collection and disposition of dead animals, cleaning of the alleys, and roadside drain and choke clearing. The section is directly responsible for maintaining a clean environment in the city. However, its share of solid waste collection ranges from 20-30% of the total solid waste generated. Private institutions collect and dispose of some of the solid waste, a few individual households use open incineration, and some private companies and individuals buy recyclable solid waste.

But the bulk of the urban solid waste (70-80%) is left to decompose where it is dumped.

Inadequate collection and disposal of municipal solid waste is a persistent urban problem in developing countries. Uncollected wastes end up in neighborhood dumps where disease-carrying insect vectors and rodents proliferate, or in street drains where they can cause flooding and subsequent road damage, and traffic obstructions (Bernstein, 1995, UN, 1987, Douglas, 1986). Even where solid waste is collected, environmentally safe disposal facilities rarely ex?-st. Wastes disposed off in open dumps are major sources of surface and ground water contamination, as well as air pollution (Nyakaana, 1995, Brunn and Williams, 1987, Goudie A, 1986). The attempt in this paper is to elucidate the current solid waste strategies of Kampala, Uganda as a model to other African urban areas in order to point out areas of inefficiency and mismanagement, and then to recommend adaptable strategies to solve the solid waste dilemma.

Research Methodology:

Data (and information) for this paper were obtained by employing different methods. Apart from reviewing the existing documents on Kampala solid waste management obtained from government sources, field trips were made to the various dumping sites used by the Kampala City Council. Residents living around these sites and local council officials (LCs) were interviewed about their relationship with the KCC and about the steps that were taken to alleviate the problems of odor, pests and leachate. Information regarding the capacity and constraints of solid waste management in the city was obtained from the officer in charge of solid waste management within the Engineering Department.

Officials of the Health Department provided useful information regarding health hazards associated with improperly managed solid waste.

Composition of Solid Waste Generated Solid waste generated in the city is largely composed of vegetable matter (70%) from discarded foods. There are two broad categories of waste: 1. Residential; 2. Commercial. Household waste contains mainly wet organic material (70-80%). Today only about 10% of the households in the city are served by the KCC, while the remaining waste is disposed of by the generating households. Waste from markets is mainly raw vegetable matter, food refuse, some scrap metal and other inorganic materials.

The other forms of solid waste are primarily commercial waste from offices, retail shops, warehouses and hotels. Industrial waste is composed mainly of packaging material, food wastes, metal, plastics, textiles and fuel ash. Street waste is generated from street sweeping and consists of sand, litter, drain cleanings, animal fecal material and actual dead animals. Construction and demolition wastes include lumber, pipes, bricks, masonry and other construction materials from cleared building sites.

Abandoned vehicles, as well as special waste generated from hospitals, slaughter houses and cesspool waste are problems of special importance. This type of waste calls for special treatment, handling and disposal strategies that are different from other tasks.


Solid Waste Management in Urban Centers State of Garbage collection in Kampala Many cities world wide generate more solid waste than they can collect or dispose of. The most affluent societies generate more waste than their poorer counterparts. In the low and middle income countries, where Uganda falls, management of municipal wastes consume 20-50% of the city's budget, but they only manage a fraction of the solid waste generated. According to the World Bank. (1992) cities such as Jakarta, Dar-es Salam and Kampala collect and dispose of only 10%,34% and 20% of their garbage respectively.

In Kampala an estimated 1,000 tons of solid waste was generated per day in 1996, which is up from 8 tons in 1993. Of this waste, only 20-30% is collected and disposed of, at a cost of 5.6 million shillings (Mugisa, 1996). The rest is either put into gardens or composted, mostly by people in the high income areas.

Before collection, refuse is stored in locally manufactured steel communal containers. The receptacles for storage and transportation of solid waste are indicated below.by area and size

–  –  –

(Source: Kampala City Council, Cleansing section).

The distribution of these containers varies. The central division has the highest number (113) and Nakawa has the least (31), as shown on the map. This distribution, to a great extent depends on the population density. Concrete bunkers which were used for collecting solid waste in National Housing Flats and institutions like Makerere University are falling apart due to poor maintenance. The communal containers have replaced the concrete bunkers.

The types of vehicles used in the transportation of the solid waste are as follows

–  –  –

(Ref. - Kampala City Council - Cleansing section) Frequency of Collection and Disposal In Kampala city, the frequency of collection ranges from a daily basis from the markets, twice weekly for the high income residential areas and from other places it is once a week. The garbage collected is disposed of at landfills or open dumps. The KCC used to own three landfills near the

East African Geographical Review, 19: 1

Lugogo bypass, 3-4 lan. from the city center; Port Bell/Luzira 12 km to the East; Wakaliga 7 km to the west and Kinawataka (Mbuya) 10 kIn to the east as shown on the map. These waste disposal sites were closed at different times before 1993. Today the KCC owns two landfills outside it boundaries, one at Lweza off Entebbe road where a disused murram pit is being filled up, and another one is at Lusanja 4 kIn from Mpererwe on Gayaza road. This landfill is still under construction, but is already being used.

It lies within KCC jurisdiction on a valley slope overlooking a stream bed.

This method of garbage disposal is cornmon in all cities and is not free from side effects. This method is successful as long as it removes the refuse without creating a health hazard and does not affect aesthetic values too greatly (Goudie, 1986). However, the side effects on human health, the atmosphere, the soil, water bodies and on the appearance of the landscape may be considerable. Especially in terms of pests, smoke, dust, odors, blowing paper and polyethylene (kavera), water pollution and increased traffic.

In Kampala, the limited garbage which is taken to the landfills does considerable harm to the environment as it is neither treated nor sorted before disposal. The main environmental hazards are related to soil and water pollution through leachate as the landfills are usually close to swamps or valleys with streams (like the new landfill being constructed in Lusanja). Other environmental hazards are the odors and flies which are a public nuisance. This causes the residents surrounding the landfills to constantly complain to KCC with very little help. For instance it was reported in the press "... the area 200 meters from the dumping site, including homesteads, gardens and bushes was covered by swarms of flies. An acrid smell coming from the site was heavy a kilometer away. Residents invited the KCC to discuss the matter, "but they have simply ignored us" (Ndyakira, 1996a). In another related incident, the City Engineer had the audacity to say, "1 agree that the garbage is dangerous to the area. 1 agree we are polluting the place, but we are fighting a difficult situation. We are in a tight comer as to where we should dump the garbage, and we cannot simply leave it on the streets... dumping garbage on the edge of the lake is better than leaving it on the city streets" (Ndyakira, 1 996b ). However, dumping of waste in wetlands is illegal as it is environmentally unfriendly (Mukanga, 1996).

In Kampala, as a result of uncollected garbage, rats and the marabou storks have become adapted to the urban environment. The latter not only feed on the garbage but also on the smaller pests. The KCC has failed to control the population growth of these rodents which have become a public nuisance.

In an effort to discourage the marabou storks from settling in some areas (high class streets) the KCC authorities resorted to cutting down the trees which are their breeding grounds. This was the wrong way of trying to rid the city of these unwelcome residents, and it has been condemned by many (New Vision newspaper; 19:3 and 26:5 Feb.; 4:5 March 1996). The best solution is to clear the city of the garbage and when these birds fail to get enough food they will migrate to other places. The best way to avoid the problems associated with these scavengers is to dispose of the garbage properly.

Today, the KCC is assisted by private companies like Bin-it (started in 1992) which collect garbage for disposal from individual households on a private arrangement. Bin-it operates in Najjanankumbi, Makindye, Bunga/Gaba, Bugolobi, Mbuya and Muyenga. They charge a fee for their service depending on the size of the house and use pick-ups to collect the garbage which is kept in polyethylene bags provided by the company. The garbage is not sorted except at the garbage heap before it is going to be burnt. The garbage is then dumped on private lands and the owner is paid a fee.

They have plans underway to process the garbage into compost to sell. Like the KCC, their dumping is environmentally unfriendly since no precautions are taken to safeguard the soil and water from the pollution by leachate. Thus odor, pests, and flies are not taken care of and residents in the surrounding areas are always complaining.

Solid Waste Management in Urban Centers

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