EDITORIAL: More needs to be done on waste management and pushing for recycling

Saturday June 22 2019


Landowners whose land was expropriated for a dumpsite in Nduba sector are concerned about their health even as they await compensation, six year on. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

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Residents of Nduba sector are concerned and worried about their health as garbage piles up at Nduba landfill in Gasabo District.

It is not clear why Kigali City authorities are yet to resolve the outstanding disputes with landlords in the area. But what is indisputable is that it is bad for people’s health to live near a dumping site.

Despite ongoing efforts to improve waste collection systems, Rwanda still faces significant challenges in relation to waste management.

Kigali City alone produces about 100 tonnes of waste on a daily basis and this volume is expected to increase as the population grows.

RURA standards for a landfill include: Location of landfill should not give rise to any adverse effects or significant risk; solid waste landfill shall be at least three metres above the seasonal high groundwater level; maximum height of site above ground should not exceed three metres and the site shall not be closer than 400 metres from an existing residential development.

However, the reality on the ground is different as these standards exist largely on paper with minimum enforcement as is the case in Nduba.


Worse still, there are several disposal sites that are over flowing. There is a lack of proper facility and treatment skills on the landfill to dispose off the waste. Discarding of waste on the site is creating new hills of waste.

Like most cities around the world, Kigali City and its secondary cities face the immense challenge of managing high volumes of solid waste. Problems often include poor waste collection and processing, and insufficient landfill infrastructure, technical skills, and regulation.

Yet, when solid waste management is lacking there are significant consequences for human health and the environment.

A sizeable portion of it is disposed of incorrectly, resulting in adverse impacts on the environment and health. Poorly handling of rubbish contaminates our air, water and soil. Respiratory issues are increasing because of air pollution from burning plastic.

There is an urgent need to prioritise and establish an affordable, integrated approach to solid waste management not only for Kigali City but also across the country.

While solid waste management is not cheap, there are a few measures that can be enforced such as collecting separated waste directly from people’s homes.

It is possible for city authorities to start enforcing separation of waste including ensuring that biodegradable and recyclable waste is collected more frequently.

It important to intensify informative campaigns to promote reduction, re-use and responsible consumption to curb the amount of rubbish people throw away. Reducing food waste should be a particular target.

There is a need for cities to ensure proper planning and implementation during construction of buildings.

An integrated approach to solid waste management is needed to mobilise all public and private stakeholders. But perhaps more importantly, taking action on plastic waste is everybody’s responsibility.