The 4th Green Talks on “Household Waste Management” was held on Wednesday, May 27, 2015.
Green Talks is a series of public discussions, launched and organized by Ecofund and the “Institut des Métiers de l’Environnement et de la Métrologie” - IMEM, covering important and timely environmental topics. The series allows for different sectors of society - private sector, citizens and public authorities - to brainstorm and make decisions on the addressed issue.
This Green Talks session, which drew a large audience, brought together representatives of Entente CADAK’CA and the National Waste Management Program as well as a designated expert to talk about the problem of household waste management.
The discussions started off with a general observation on the poor management of household waste evidenced through garbage dumps, illegal dumping grounds and inexistent garbage collection throughout different cities and local communities in Senegal and Dakar particularly. Poor waste management poses increasingly negative consequences for and risk to the environment, public health and quality of life.
Senegal’s poor waste management is largely due to instability in the sector. This instability is multi-dimensional:
- institutional - for 10 years, personnel changes at the Ministry in charge of waste management have hindered the elaboration of a strategy on a medium and long term basis and prevented meaningful partnerships with local communities. Agencies are, thus, unable to sufficiently capitalize on their gains;
- technical - waste management is limited solely to collection, transportation and disposal at temporary dumpsites. Due to a lack of infrastructure and accompanying mechanisms, household waste is not recycled;
- financial - the Government subsidy system for local communities from the Tax on Household Waste is not sustainable for Dakar (granted a special status). As a result, municipalities do not have the financial capacity nor technical means to sustain such initiatives. These difficulties show the huge problem in household waste tax recovery. Due to a tax system that is not yet decentralized to local community levels, inadequate revenue collection systems, and unequal distribution of government subsidies for waste management, only 1.9 billion CFA Francs, (2.9 million Euros) is recovered in Senegal;
- managerial - the absence of legal frameworks has allowed for recurrent strikes in the sector. Today, there exists a collective agreement that makes it possible to ‘secure’ field technicians in their work through comprehensive benefits including health insurance, retirement plan, and social security;
- behavioral - due to poor citizen attitudes by citizens regarding waste management.
At the end of the discussions, suggestions and proposed solutions include:
1) the urgent need to reform legal frameworks for better household waste management. Relevant laws regarding regulation date back to 1974 and must be reviewed;
2) re-thinking the current Tax on Household Waste system;
3) the creation of a sustainable self-funding system for the management of household waste;
4) the establishment and regulation of a more advantageous fee structure (currently there is no legal basis for this) ;
5) the establishment of durable, effective and reliable fee calculation systems that can be legalized and adapted by local communities to encourage citizen accountability;
6) studying the feasibility of establishing an ecological tax (ecotax) for waste recycling;
7) the Senegalese government support for the development of infrastructure in local communities and neighborhoods;
8) the establishment of a waste sorting chain approach through the creation of receptive buffer zones to avoid illegal dumping;
9) the provision of technical support to local communities through skills training (waste handling jobs) in collaboration with stakeholders;
10) public health campaigns encouraging citizens to rethink their manner of producing waste (cf: see consumption pattern) and the creation of simple and basic waste repurposing solutions (recycling to a lesser extent) for better civic awareness;
11) the reinstatement of public health services aimed at supporting better citizen waste management;
12) valorization of field technicians through better collective work contract.
After discussions, conclusions on the waste management problem included:
1) It is imperative for the Ministry of Environment, relevant technical departments, local communities, citizen and neighborhood associations to work in synergy. Citizen participation through local political representatives is critical for demanding the review of outdated and weak legal framework (increase in waste and decrease in treatment options);
2) It is also important to adapt tax incentives to promote the efficient sorting, repurposing and recycling (in the best manner) of waste.
The discussions, thus, allowed the participants to have a better understanding of the waste management problem in Senegal.