City planners have their work cut out on managing waste

Wednesday September 01 2021
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Garbage companies say the absence of a clear waste disposal guidelines has seen several attempts by City of Kigali to enforce garbage sorting at source fail. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA


Rwanda’s Climate Action Agenda targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent by 2030.

However, the country’s ambitious growth agenda appears to be the biggest threat to this ambition because as the country registers impressive economic progress, the existing waste management problem gets worse Waste generation is expected to increase by 70 percent over the next 30 years. At least 90 percent of over 500 tonnes of solid waste collected daily across Kigali ends up in open dumping sites and it is not sorted.

Data shows waste entering landfills sites in the city is increasing with estimates of 1,000 tonnes per year.

Yet even as the waste generation increases, there are still gaps in not only collecting but also recycling.

From the infamous Nyanza dumpsite which was closed eight years ago amid outcry over public health and environmental concerns, to one in Nduba where similar issues are even more pronounced, it appears successive city plans got it wrong in the first place by not treating the waste issue as urgent, leaving Kigali without a single sanitary landfill to date.

This is why the recent partnership between the government and Luxembourg to treat solid and hazardous waste is exciting.


Many hope it will bring an end to the garbage crisis in Kigali and other cities. But it is not a silver bullet. More efforts are needed to mobilise the local private sector to see waste management as a business opportunity.

To do this, the government needs to consider offering incentives to help subside the relatively high operations costs.

While joint technical teams are still discussing the exact actions to undertake, similar interventions in the past including investments enticed to undertake municipal waste hit a wall amid lack of one major thing – a framework to operationalise sorting of waste at source.

Several initiatives attempted for a few years turning selected waste into cooking fuel and manure, among others but later flopped because recuperating recyclable materials entails sifting through tonnes of mixed municipal garbage improperly dumped at the landfills on daily basis, or deploying directly at households.

Until today, inefficient collection and disposal not only makes it extremely expensive but also offers too-dirty-tovalorise and hard-to-treat waste volumes.

This left over 90 percent of the collected waste ending up in our infamous open air dumping sites where they continue to haunt everyone’s health through pollution.

There is a need for a well-coordinated stakeholder consultation and management. This is in addition to increasing awareness- invest in public awareness campaigns to encourage environment friendly living in homes.

As they say, charity begins at home. Specifically, there is a need for awareness on how to reduce waste production by paying attention to minor details in their lives, for example encouraging many Rwandans to carry their own shopping bags, drinking water bottles and coffee mugs instead of buying one every time they consume something.