The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

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  • rbanda
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The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

Lusaka is the capital city of Zambia, home to one of the world’s natural wonders, the Victoria Falls . It is the epicenter of trade and industry, as well as the headquarters of the Central Government. Its population of about 2.9 million comprises mostly of people from the 72 ethnic groups and a small proportion of residents of Asian, European, and east-African descent. The Soli people were the original inhabitants of the land and Lusaka was named after their ruler, Chief Lusaka.

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Figure 1. Lusaka skyline

Until recently, solid waste was not a big problem in Lusaka. The Lusaka City Council (LCC) had enough capacity to collect and dispose of waste at the designated dumping site, the Chunga dumpsite. But as Lusaka’s population grew, there was more waste than the LCC could handle. Waste collection services became scanty and almost non-existent in some areas as available manpower and equipment could not do. As people could not store the waste more than they needed to, they started dumping it out wherever possible, places such as street corners, unfinished buildings, water drainages, etc. became easy targets.

Currently,the situation has worsened and reached an alarming level. The Lack of adequate funding, manpower, and inadequate equipment has tripled the Lusaka City Council such that they are unable to offer their services acceptably. As collection services are non-existent in most places, especially the slums, people have continued to dump waste indiscriminately. The Lusaka Central Business District (CBD) is a sorry sight to behold. Heaps of garbage can be seen on streets such as the Freedomway.

Figure 2. Luburma Market, Lusaka CBD (source: Lusakatimes)

So, the question we can now pose is,

“what are the possible solutions to the garbage situation in Lusaka?” [/i]

Well, to start with, the Lusaka City Council needs to be adequately funded so that they can hire more workers and acquire adequate equipment. Besides other possible solutions, there is one critical element that we’ve been neglecting for a long time - onsite sanitation.

Onsite sanitation is the first line of action in managing waste at points of generation (Figure 3). Full participation of the public in taking care of their immediate environment is the first step to winning the war against solid waste. Every citizen must be reminded and made aware of their role in waste management. How? By carrying community sensitization, organizing awareness workshops and seminars, and incentive-based sanitation programs. In addition, we need to champion the promotion of environmentally friendly practices such as recycling.


Remember, "charity begins at home!"
Figure 3. Elements of a Waste Management System
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  • Chaiwe
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

Dear Rabson,

Nice topic of discussions this is. I especially find this section within your post ''Onsite sanitation is the first line of action in managing waste at points of generation (Figure 3).''and your title eye-catching. However, i don't find that your post really gives an account of the interactions between onsite and offsite sanitation with the solid waste management problem in Lusaka and how these can be addressed.

I would also like to really get an understanding of what you mean by this ''Onsite sanitation is the first line of action in managing waste at points of generation (Figure 3).'' can you kindly expound further?

Follow the Wikipedia definitions of Onsite sanitation and Offsite sanitation here:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanitation#Onsite_sanitation

Onsite sanitation (or on-site sanitation) is defined as "a sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated". [22] :173 The degree of treatment may be variable, from none to advanced. Examples are pit  latrines  (no treatment) and  septic tanks  ( primary treatment  of wastewater). On-site sanitation systems are often connected to  fecal sludge management  (FSM) systems where the fecal sludge that is generated onsite is treated at an offsite location. (Offsite Sanitation or Wastewater ( sewage ) )is only generated when piped  water supply  is available within the buildings or close to them.

Kind Regards,
Chaiwe
SuSanA Forum Moderator
(With financial support by GIZ from June to October 2021)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

To add a little more to this conversation on what you have called solid waste management, the principal reason you see waste as a complex issue is because you allow everything to be combined as you see in some of the photographs in this conversation. The solution is source separation and the most valuable material you have in your waste stream is the one which contaminates everything else. This is food waste. 
Many people in governments or the waste industry will try to defend their inaction on source separation by blaming the population and saying they are lazy and will not sort materials out. Many people in the Zero Waste movement have tried applying source separation now in many, many different communities and have had very positive results. If you want people to separate materials from each other you must give them: 1. The right tools, 2. The right motivation and 3. The Correct information. They need to understand what they will get from their actions and why it is a benefit, why they will save money and why out will benefit their children. In all parts of the world the largest part of any materials stream is organic waste which can be made into a beautiful product which can replace chemical fertiliser in crop production and give you beautiful food.  You can find a lot of resources at no cost on this issue on my web site: gerry gillespie.net 
There is a lot more information on the Zero Waste Europe website:  https://zerowasteeurope.eu
This includes information from over 300 communities many of which are now diverting up to 85% of their waste from landfill or incineration. If your government or waste 'professionals'; tell you this cannot be done it is because they are making a lot of money from the current system or from incineration. As I said previously companies do not make money from incineration they make money from the fees you pay to have materials burnt and the only things which will burn are things which are organic in origin. They make money because large financiers and large bankers make a lot of money from the big loans required to build and run incinerators. Once you build an incinerator you have to feed it your organic waste for 25 years, which is the usual length of the contract. You are being fooled if you think this can be sustained indefinitely. Follow the money - follow the money!!!
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

Great Discussion. Solid waste Management  has continued  to be a challenge  in Lusaka. Despite the challenges the Local Authority  are facing to meet the service delivery demand,  the communities  are also not helping. They are not seeing that they have a part to play in the Management  of solid waste. It calls for attitude  and mind set Change. For communities  to willing participate  in this challenge,  we need to make them understand  the value in waste. Seeing waste as Cash. Making them separate  at a point of generation. Creating more sorting sites and linking them to waste recycling  companies.  Teaching them methods  of composting. Lusaka City Council is currently running  an initiative  called,  Know your Neighbour with the Concept  of the community to take ownership and Responsibility to take care of their Environment by checking how the Neighbour  is managing  their waste and report any form of illegal waste dumping. This initiative  is working well and hoping  its piloted in many compounds. 
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

The most powerful thing for any community in this conversation is having them directly involved. If they can see the long term community benefits of simple community actions, especially in terms of clean organic materials going back to soil, they see and understand their role. We have found that if you provide people with the right tools, motivation and information, their actions will change because the see the social benefits - especially in soils. Removing organic material from the materials stream can totally remove the 'yuk' factor. Public officials in government in Australia have always regarded the public as fools and uncooperative but this is because they are not given the right tools, motivation and information. The attitude of government here is that you simply drop a bin at the home and somehow you will get the right result. This is not the case - the community needs to be involved and excited about being involved.
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

Thanks Gerry for the insightful contribution.
I totally agree with you in every sense. Indeed direct community involvement in SWM is crucial. I love the fact that you brought in the issue of motivation, provision of right tools and information to get everyone involved. I am quite confident that the greatest motivation for the people of my City would be 'cash for trash'. Zambia being a third-world country, cash is hard to come by. And so, offering cash incentives would turn the situation around. Information on SWM is scarce. The Local Authority is not adequately funded to run ads in the print and electronic media. But I trust that social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, etc can be utilized to reach thousands. The need for households to have the right tools cannot be overemphasized. Indeed there is more we have to do to bring about positive changes.

I appreciate your contribution.
RB
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

Hi Angela,
Great contribution!
I'm glad to learn of the 'Know your Neighbour' initiative and I believe that it will help more people to come to the realization that they're responsible for the well-being of their environment. This also resonates Gerry's point that we need to involve communities more and more.

RB.
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

Hello Chaiwe,
Thanks for the comment!
I think that the interaction between onsite and offsite sanitation can be styled using the concept of a scale
(refer to figure below).



On one side is onsite sanitation and on the other, offsite. When
people practice good onsite waste handling, separation, processing, and
storage, the effort that will be required when the waste is taken offsite will
be minimal. Similarly, if little to no action is taken onsite, more effort will
be expended offsite. In the case of Lusaka, there isn’t much action being taken
at the onsite level. As Gerry put it, the situation can be addressed by motivating
communities to get directly involved in SWM. This can be realized by availing them
with the right tools and information.
RB.
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

"Cash for Trash" - I agree, I think that's the key!  But how do you want to go about it?

In developing countries it's by no means guaranteed that residents are participating in separation at the source as it's usually called.  In fact, residents might even ask for money, if you ask them to separate.  That's what happened when I tried to introduce it in Uganda.

In GIZ (SuSanA is still a part of GIZ, isn't it?), there currently is a lot of talk about extended producer responsibility (EPR) in the waste sector, a concept that is taken from European counties like Germany.  In fact, a deposit system for packaging, non-biodegradable in particular, would be more appropriate.  That could take out most of the 'ugly' waste from the environment.

Wish you good luck with your endeavors!
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
presently in Seesen, Germany
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

In response to the past fur comments was the clever system used in Curitiba Brazil by Jaimie Lerner. To enable waste and resource recovery in the slums which had not roads or space for garbage trucks, they rewarded people for putting their wastes into plastic bags and other containers and bringing them to collection points. For this the community was paid in food vouchers and transport vouchers meaning they could get to jobs in the city. The really astounding effect was the fall in disease and hospital treatments. The improvement in community health was more than compensated by the cost of the programme. It is not always imperative to pay people with cash - with our City to Soil program we started by giving some people prizes but soon found that people were happy to be involved because the program was so positive and focussed on the future.
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Re: The SWM Problem in Lusaka, Zambia (sub-Sahara Africa) and its interaction with onsite and offsite sanitation: what are the possible solutions?

Thanks Gerry. You said and I agree with:

If you want people to separate materials from each other you must give them:

  1. The right tools,
  2. The right motivation and
  3. The Correct information. 

In Alleppey, a town in South Indian state of Kerala, people deposit segregated waste at community collection points as there is no alternative. But additionally, a lot of effort has been put in to educate the masses about its need and what happens to the waste after it is deposited. See this thread for some details and references:  Community level composters, organic solid waste collection from households

Rewarding people for segregation is also a good idea to begin with. But wondering how long can the resource constrained public utilities and governments in the Global South can manage to sustain it? And what happens when they are no longer able to mobilise funds for the purpose? 
Could you please also share some material related to the experience in Curitiba you mentioned in your previous post? 

Regards
paresh
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Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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