The reality of Solid Waste Management in Tanzania
Rapid population growth and urbanization puts pressure on urban services and waste management. Notably, with any population, waste generation surges as fast as human consumption. The 2004 Environmental Management Act in Tanzania was ineffective in combating environmental challenges triggered by rapid urbanisation and failed to put in place solid waste management practices that promoted sanitary landfilling or waste recovery. Land, air and water pollution are a major problem in urbanised areas. This was occasioned by improper treatment and disposal of solid and liquid waste, which was detrimental to the existing ecosystems and human health.
Tanzania was also faced with poor segregation of market actors which made it almost impossible to coordinate and implement a proper solid waste management system. Many private sector players lacked access to waste processing technology and adequate recycling knowledge. This limited their income generating options as they often worked in an unsupported and non-systematic manner, collecting and recycling only mainstream plastic typologies, i.e. polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Other recyclable typologies such as fibre plastics, glass, paper and organic waste remained unexploited at the collection points or at the dump sites indicating untapped potential. Additionally, not many investors were willing to enter the market as the supply of materials was inconsistent.
Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), the key waste collectors often responsible for managing waste collection in their mandated neighbourhoods, mainly gathered waste as a part-time occupation which implied, they did not harness the economic potential of the waste they collected. They lacked knowledge about the supplementary income they could earn from the numerous marketable recyclables or treatment of organic waste.
The municipalities were not efficient in their waste handling efforts and did not provide the collection service reliably to its residents, due to weak policies and the high operational costs incurred as a result of the limited waste recovery activities. Since waste was not being sorted at the household level and collection was not regular and streamlined, there were several waste piles across town which posed as a health risk and resulted in many residents falling ill from malaria and cholera.
Taka ni Mali is a project on developing economic opportunities in waste collection that was launched in Tanzania in 2013. Taka ni Mali is a Swahili term meaning waste is wealth. The project aimed to apply an inclusive market approach in the implementation of efficient and sustainable Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems within specific municipalities in Tanzania, while creating decent economic opportunities in solid waste collection and the recycling sub-sector. Additionally, the activities induced the reduction of environmental degradation and health risks.
The urban climate-smart project, which sought to handle the effects of the fast-growing populations, was implemented with a first phase between 2013 and 2016 in Morogoro Municipality with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Puma Energy Foundation. Thanks to the impact made in the first project phase, the project was extended until 2018 expanding its operations to Mwanza Municipality (Ilemela and Nyamagana municipalities).
In phase 1 (2013 -2016);
- 97 women out of 199 CBO workers from 15 CBOs benefited from the project and are now fully employed.
- 56 women out of 124 street/ward leaders from 6 wards in Morogoro Municipality were trained on solid waste management by-laws including fee structures, proper management of waste at ward level and supervision of CBO activities.
In phase 2 (2017 -2018);
- 190 women from a combined 425 waste collectors from 27 CBOs were trained.
- 57 women from a combined 90 waste recyclers were engaged.
- 58 women out of 134 Mavuno group members accessed loans.
- Out of the 40 newly created jobs in the recycling sector all of them are women.
Benefits of the project
The Taka ni Mali project had several benefits for the target group. These included:
- Facilitating access to financial services through the formation of savings and lending groups (Mavuno) and linkages to Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs).
- Improving economic performance of CBOs and recycling industries and their respective employees.
- Increasing sorting and the volumes of inorganic and organic material collected within functioning municipal-supported solid waste management systems.
The Project Approach
In the first project phase, Swisscontact played a supportive role in the implementation of a solid waste management system (SWM) ensuring that project activities were well coordinated and effected. As this was a new concept in the community, the CBOs participated in various training sessions and received numerous inputs which assisted them in their waste collection efforts.
A CBO is any form of organisation that draws its members from the same neighbourhood or geographical area that is also a socio-administrative unit. The CBOs are responsible (often by their own initiative) for managing waste collection in their own neighbourhood. The CBOs specialise in the primary collection (from household to collection points or enclosures), while the Municipal Council transfers the waste from the CBO collection point to the principal landfill.
To achieve systemic change, Swisscontact adjusted its approach in the second phase and moved towards a market system facilitation to assure sustainability. The market systems development approach used is referred to as Inclusive Markets which is also commonly known by many as Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P). It advocates for the engagement of all key stakeholders in solid waste management including local authorities, Municipal Councils, waste collectors (who form the CBOs), waste blockers/aggregators, recyclers, households, waste scavengers and financial service providers. The approach was based on the premise that better waste management and an improved enabling environment led to more competitive businesses, which in turn resulted in sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and a clean environment. The project engaged with private and public sector organisations to change the community’s mindset, leverage resources and maximise impact. The market facilitator and linkage role Swisscontact played with the market actors aimed to ensure the project acceptance by the community, sustainability of activities and encourage scaling up. Swisscontact established a good relationship with all the involved stakeholders which was beneficial in coordinating efforts.
The project considers SWM as a value chain which needed capacity building and cooperation both up and downstream. To ensure acceptance, it was crucial to change the negative image held by the community around working in the waste collection sector.
The first signs of systemic change were seen when the Morogoro Municipal Council institutionalised the CBO system in an integrated solid waste management strategy. They recognised the CBOs as service providers and permitted them to be responsible for primary waste collection at household level. The regular and cost-effective waste collection system was provided as an alternative to haphazard dumping of household waste. The CBO network was further supported with capacity building for its leaders to advocate for proper waste removal services and enforcement of revised by-laws from the municipality. Technical suggestions from those with SWM experience and exchange visits enabled the municipality to improve their strategy and to put in place a more efficient and sustainable SWM system.
Some of the innovative methods facilitated by the project to raise awareness, encourage community acceptance and involvement include:
- A six-month competition to identify the best performing CBO. The Municipal Council assessed all operating CBOs using different criteria including health and safety of their workers. The winner was crowned as ‘Taka Shujaa’ meaning waste hero.
- Replication of the ‘Taka Mita’ which is a waste meter inspired by a successful waste management project in Bolivia. The meter is a public signpost placed in each ward showing its level of cleanliness. The cleanest ward was awarded the ‘golden broom’. As each ward wanted recognition, residents and their leaders worked to outdo each other in the competition.
- Development of an awareness creation manual that was disbursed through house-to-house visits and public demonstrations carried out by the CBO workers in close collaboration with ward health officers, leaders and volunteers. Taka ni Mali supported the development and printing of the awareness materials, which explained the revised environmental by-laws and policies.
- Partnered with schools and formed environmental clubs that taught students the importance of environmental conservation and composting and how to sort waste at source. The lessons learnt were practical with each club running a compost and organic garden within the school compound.
- Media announcements.
Some of the capacity building exercises facilitated by Swisscontact included, but were not limited to good communication skills, leadership, handling group dynamics, recycling per waste typology, waste sorting, briquette making, entrepreneurship, business management, occupational health and safety, first aid and record keeping.
Social and Gender Inclusion
To a large extent, women are responsible for household waste management and keeping the home and its immediate environment clean. Throughout both project phases, it was noticed that a significant number of CBO waste collectors were women. They mainly collected waste in the neighbourhoods, collected household fees and kept CBO records. Many of them were also elected to play the chair role in several CBOs. Notably, in the recycling sector, female employees predominantly sorted and packed recyclables, while the men were tasked with the heavier duties like handling the machines. Furthermore, at both the beneficiary and policy level, it was important to ensure that women’s voices were heard and that their participation in community decision making was encouraged and supported.
What next? Was the project sustainable?
Since the project applied an inclusive approach engaging all stakeholders and managing expectations, the community slowly embraced proper solid waste management systems and applied them independently. The numerous capacity building exercises-built cohesion among the stakeholders who recognised the importance of strengthening their symbiotic relationships in order to maximise and manage solid waste in a proper and profitable way. Because stakeholders identified the gaps in the waste management system and were adequately trained with the skills they needed, Swisscontact believes that the project will be tenable in the future. Towards the closure of the project, three dummy cheques each valued at CHF 8,690 have been handed over to the Mwanza City Council (Ilemela and Nyamagana Municipalities) and Morogoro Municipality symbolising the support for equipment to strategically sustain proper solid waste management systems after Swisscontact’s engagement.
The Taka ni Mali project was implemented with the involvement of all major stakeholders of the market. This proved effective as information dissemination was two-way rather than top down. This eventually encouraged better relationships between the market actors and helped build the spirit of community ownership which is vital for project sustainability.
The participatory development process stimulated the engagement of the main sector actors trained in diverse areas to independently craft and implement suitable and custom-made strategies in solid waste management. All capacity building exercises were facilitated by the Taka ni Mali project and aimed to empower the community to realise proper solid waste management systems.
Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) have built their capacities in several areas which included but were not limited to the importance of proper SWM system, typology of waste, the importance of sorting, recyclable innovations, entrepreneurship, financial management, safety at work, market identification and building stakeholder relationships. Through target specific trainings, the Municipality of Morogoro was able to change its policy around environmental conservation and applied an appropriate solid waste management system within its wards.