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Four ways to address challenges of urban solid waste: new policy brief developed for the City of Kisumu in Kenya.

“Better communication between different waste actors is paramount”. LUCSUS researchers present policy brief on how to address challenges linked to urban solid waste management in Kisumu, Kenya.
Initiatives such as the Kisumu Waste Actors Network (KIWAN) must be encouraged to ensure the engagement and inclusion of waste collectors, recyclers, community organizations and entrepreneurs. Photo: Michael Oloko.
Initiatives such as the Kisumu Waste Actors Network (KIWAN) must be encouraged to ensure the engagement and inclusion of waste collectors, recyclers, community organizations and entrepreneurs. Photo: Michael Oloko.

The collection and handling of municipal solid waste pose a significant challenge in urban Kisumu. The demand for more sustainable waste handling and treatment strategies in the city has become more acute because of the threatened permanent closure of the Kachok dumpsite located immediately outside the city center. The action has prompted significant debate and controversy on the different treatment options. Some of the options include the location of an alternative landfill site outside of the city, possibilities for solid waste incineration, and how to operationalise city ward-based resource recovery and sorting centers.

–  We were invited to contribute with informed knowledge on how to work with and overcome the challenges of urban solid waste, says Barry Ness, researcher at LUCSUS. My history of working in the area, coupled with our knowledge of waste management systems in Sweden, provide insights and inspiration which can be used to develop solutions in Kisumu.

Based on a broader assessment of the situation in Kisumu City, researchers from LUCSUS and the Kisumu Local Interaction Platform of the Mistra Urban Futures, have developed a policy brief for decision makers in the city. 

– The four parts of the policy are very distinct, highlighting the need to start from a broad waste management hierarchy, for example that you need to start with waste reduction, and as a last measure, final disposal. Inclusion of all relevant actors working with solid waste is also an essential aspect of overcoming challenges.

The policy brief will now be distributed to actors and decision makers in Kisumu with the aim of strategy implementation. The researchers will also conduct an analysis of different centralised solid waste treatment technologies, including landfilling in different levels of technological sophistication, incineration and anaerobic digestion. 

– We hope that these activities will result in both better waste management strategies for Kisumu, and in the implementation of solid waste processes and technologies that decrease the quantities of waste which reaches final disposal, concludes Barry Ness.

Waste compacting and resource extraction at the Kachok dumpsite in Kisumu City
Waste compacting and resource extraction at the Kachok dumpsite in Kisumu City. Photo: Barry Ness.

About the project

Barry Ness from LUCSUS and Luciana Capuano Mascarenhas (LUMES Prgram graduate) collaborated with Dr. Michael Oloko and colleagues from the platform Kisumu (KLIP) to discuss and examine the challenges with different solid waste actors along with more sustainable strategies to address them. The activities included meetings and site visits with city and county officials, community group leaders, private waste collectors and recyclers and landfill waste pickers, among others.
 

Policy Brief

Four recommendations:

1. A sustainable solid waste management strategy must be pursued in short- and long term perspectives.

2. A diversity of relevant sectors and actors must formally engage and network in all phases of the process, including planning, design and the execution of solutions.

3. Policies and regulations should be in place and enforced to encourage a more formalised waste collection system.

4. A system of waste separation at the source should be established and promoted for all households and businesses.

Download the policy brief

About the researcher

Barry Ness

Barry Ness is Associate Professor at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies and Director of Studies of the PhD Research School. He is also the Director of the local interaction platform in Skåne for the Mistra Urban Futures project, and, and the editor-in-chief of Challenges in Sustainability (Librello Publishing). 

Barry Ness' personal page.

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Four ways to address challenges of urban solid waste: new policy brief developed for the City of Kisumu in Kenya.

Four ways to address challenges of urban solid waste: new policy brief developed for the City of Kisumu in Kenya.

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