In the previous sections, we have explained the many benefits that ISWM brings to a community. ISWM helps to safeguard public health, improve the environment and gives a better image to the city. Hence improving waste services is a priority for many stakeholders – the government, NGOs, health and environment ministries and city councils.
However, developing and implementing ISWM needs start-up capital and an on-going revenue scheme. It needs investment in equipment and in the training and development of skilled staff. ISWM also requires effort from all the stakeholders. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to encourage people to develop and implement ISWM by providing incentives. These incentives may be financial benefits or the offer of some other sort of reward for adopting an ISWM approach.
It is at the local level where encouragement and incentives need to be provided. This is a task for national or local government and can take a number of forms. For example:
- National government could allow municipalities that perform well in terms of waste collection and treatment the flexibility to spend more of their budget on waste services if it can be shown to achieve savings in other areas.
- Where good practice in waste management has been demonstrated, special funds could be allocated to allow this practice to be extended within an area or replicated in other areas.
- Local authorities could reward best performing individuals, institutions or environment clubs through various mechanisms including media coverage and awards.
- Financial support could be given to environmental groups and small-scale private sector enterprises that engage in waste collection, composting and recycling. This support could be provided through the savings achieved by the municipality in its collection, transport and disposal costs.
Even when incentives are provided, attempts to improve the waste management system are not always successful as shown in the following case study. Read the case study and then answer the questions below.
Case Study 11.2 Why do composting programmes fail? An example
A city administration organised a group of young people to become involved in waste composting through its job creation policy framework. The youth club members were identified by kebeles and sent to the Environment and Social Affairs Department of the municipality for training. The municipality ‘oriented’ them and provided them with land and basic tools to run the composting programme. These young people were very well motivated and started their job, hoping that they would earn sufficient money to sustain their livelihoods.
The task they were set was not simple. They had to collect compostable waste, separate and remove the waste components they did not need and send them back to the communal collection skips. Unfortunately, their training did not give them the information they needed to be sure about the mix of wastes for effective composting process (for example, whether it needed more leaves, more paper and or more food waste). They also did not know how to monitor the temperature and moisture content of the composting waste. Consequently, the compost took a long time to mature and even after six months they did not have good quality compost.
This youth group were very disappointed with their first batch of compost. They had hoped to sell the compost to local farmers but most of them had no interest in buying it because they had access to synthetic fertilisers distributed by the government. The farmers who did express an interest offered a small amount of money but this was not enough to cover the producers’ labour costs. The youths became frustrated and gave up the scheme.
What are the lessons that can be learned from this case study?
Several things could have been done much better:
- The initial training programme should have been expanded to cover the nature of waste, the types of waste needed to make compost and how to carry out the composting process (balancing the material mixes, how often to turn the compost heaps, how to measure the temperature and moisture content and how to know when the compost is ready for use).
- More equipment should have been provided (at the least, suitable thermometers should have been made available).
- The youths should have been supervised, assisted and guided through the process of making and selling compost for at least the first year to encourage them to keep on doing the job.
- A financial supporting mechanism should have been established for at least an initial period until markets for the compost had been established and money started to flow in.
- Markets for the compost should have been identified beforehand.
From your study earlier in the Module, what specific information should the young people have been given about the required mix of brown and green waste for composting?
They should have been told to mix three parts of brown waste (paper, woody material, dried vegetation) to one part of green waste (food waste, animal manure, fresh vegetation).
Developing and implementing an ISWM system is a significant task that requires commitment and the cooperation of many stakeholders as well as financial investment. Its success will depend on continuing support from the community. As someone involved in promoting improved sanitation, you may find yourself working with a team charged with introducing an ISWM system. The sort of tasks that you could be doing include:
- helping to educate the public on the advantages of introducing the 3 Rs and the basic principles of integrated solid waste management
- working closely with the health sector and labour and social department of the municipality to protect the health of the communities in the informal waste management sector
- identifying potential stakeholders in the town
- assessing the situation in and around the town and deciding with other stakeholders whether it is possible to introduce ISWM.
In many towns, there is increasing focus on solid waste management. Adopting an ISWM approach that brings together the most effective technologies and has the support of all stakeholders will ensure that sustainable improvements are made which will benefit the communities and the environment.