By Lynet Ampiire, RA 2017 Young Leader and Cohort Vice President
Uganda’s population is rising, leading to the deterioration of the natural environment in different aspects such as pollution—air pollution, water pollution, land pollution being all on the rise. Pollution is one of the silent killers in developing countries and Uganda being one these is affected massively as evidenced by the disease burden.
The World Health Organization states that more than 8 million people die each year, around the world, as a result of living in a polluted environment. A 2006 solid waste management report in Macao reveals that high pollution is due to increased resource consumption generated by the population, manifested in high waste production, placing intense pressure on the authorities to provide appropriate services efficiently and effectively.
Solid wastes refer to particles or materials which are no longer useful and require to be discarded and is composed of both organic and inorganic classifications which are bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable respectively. One of the main types of solid waste is domestic refuse which include food refuse, plastics, metals, glass, papers..
In Kampala, 1,580 tonnes of solid waste are generated everyday but only 40% of it is collected by the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) (Banga, 2013). This is because people come up with their own waste disposal mechanisms which maybe inefficient causing environment degradation knowingly or unknowingly. This is usually in areas that are found in the outskirts of the city where poor waste management practices are common.
Solid waste management is one of the milestones faced in Kampala city and has raised concerns in the community and as well as the authorities. Due to this, environmental issues have been enshrined by the government through implementing policies and strategies to protect the environment and its resources as indicated in the National Environment (Waste Management) Regulations in the Constitution of Uganda 1995 (amended 2005) (WaterAid, 2011).
This provides some coverage for solid waste management in Uganda and Kampala in particular which is a limitation to the towns in the outskirts of the city. It is KCCA’s mandate to handle environmental issues; maintain the cleanliness, hygiene and the beauty of the city, Kampala (MATAGI, 2001).
Solid waste collection is currently one of the most critical services offered by KCCA in effort to improve waste disposal. Despite KCCA acknowledges that the amount of solid waste generated overwhelms the capacity of the Authority to collect and dispose appropriately given the cost (WaterAid, 2011).
KCCA has maintained the cleanliness of the city such as putting litter bins in place along Kampala streets (e.g. Old Kampala road).
Additionally, KCCA has put up initiatives to collect and transport garbage from different households around the city to landfills/ dumping sites such as at Mpererwe, Kiteezi. This initiative reaches a small percentage and as a result the unfortunate occupants make their own arrangement to dispose of their waste. Some bury it, others burn it, while others simply throw it on unauthorized sites like roadsides and public land (MATAGI, 2001). Such sites are often a source of littering, pollution and offensive smells and provide breeding grounds for rats, flies and mosquitoes.
Despite this initiative, it is costly for both the Authority and the community especially those of low income stature. KCCA has to incur transportation and labor costs.
There is still inadequacy to manage and control solid waste effectively and efficiently despite the government’s intervention and authorities like National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), NGOs that are advocating for environment conservation such as Greenwatch Uganda. Therefore this calls for all our intervention at an individual level to raise environmental concern for the betterment of all. Everyone loves to live in a clean and unpolluted environment but what each person can do about it is still the unanswered question. Some have devised means of preventing inappropriate dumping on private land such as sign posts “NO DUMPING HERE FINE SHS” But we can do more; we can recycle!
Recycling refers to the process by which discarded materials are collected, sorted, processed and converted into raw materials used in the creation of new products (Rugunda, 2012). Recycling is a human activity that is environment friendly, it can be done by anyone; households, children, schools. It has a significant impact on the property required for the landfill space—it reduces waste in landfills.
Recycling not only produces income for the local government but also for the populations so therefore sensitization is needed to boost awareness among the people about the importance of recycling. This could mitigate the negligence in waste disposal.
In conclusion, recycling in households can reduce solid waste and pressure exerted on the environment for resources as well as in the landfills. Investing in recycling not only brings income to an individual but to the country as well, for it decreases on the costs the government spends on landfills for space.
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MATAGI, S. V. 2001. SOME ISSUES OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN IN KAMPALA, THE CAPITAL CITY OF UGANDA.
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RUGUNDA, R. 2012. ELECTRONIC WASTE (E-WASTE) MANAGEMENT POLICY FOR UGANDA. In: (ICT), M. O. I. A. C. T. (ed.).
WATERAID 2011. Solid Waste Management.