Councils grapple with solid waste collection crisis

ZIMBABWE’S urban local authorities have inadequate solid waste collection and disposal equipment which has led to numerous illegal refuse dumps.

A report by the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (Ucaz) said while coverage of refuse receptacles increased from 50,2 percent in 2016 to 53 percent in 2017, refuse collection was still a problem.

The refuse problems come as most local authorities have been complaining of fuel shortages that have hindered their compactors from collecting garbage as per schedule.
“All 32 local authorities reported inadequate solid waste collection and disposal equipment. Only three out of the 32 councils have proper landfill sites while very minimal recycling is taking place in the urban centres,” Ucaz said.

“The cost of landfills as per current design is beyond the reach of local authorities, as a result, local authorities and the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) have agreed to adapt the design to our current economic conditions.”
The report also shows a 38,7 percent efficiency in collection of solid waste management charges against a benchmark expectation of 75 percent.

Cities such as Harare have started to construct biogas digesters to make use of the biodegradable waste produced in markets such as Mbare.

Harare City Council waste management manager Calvin Chigariro is on record saying the gas produced at the digesters would eventually be fed into the power grid that provides electricity to the Mbare flats.

“The site cost $500 000 with the European Union providing the main source of funding at 320 000 Euro and the rest coming from Harare City Council. Perishables from the market will be fed into the digesters and the gas is going to be used for firing the electricity generator which will produce 100kVa of power,” he said.
Chigariro added that once successfully commissioned and operated and a sustainable business model has been implemented, council would like to duplicate the model to other vegetable markets such as in Lusaka and Tafara.

Environmental Management Agency publicity manager Steady Kangata said waste produced at markets needs to be reused for other things instead of it being dumped.

Having adequate equipment also means that waste generated is collected and not left to fester in mounds.

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