Integrating the informal recycling sector into solid waste management planning in Nairobi city
KIBW AGE, Jacob Kibwage
MetadataShow full item record
The demand for promotion of Solid Waste Management (SWM) services is growing steadily with the current rates of urbanisation not only in the industrialised countries, but also throughout the developing world. In Nairobi City, less than 40% of solid waste is collected and disposed of by the Nairobi City Council (NCG) and private waste G collectors. This poor state of SWM services is mainly attributed to the absence of a systematic and integrated SWM approach between the formal and informal sectors. The NCC has, in particular, ignored the participation of the informal sector in SWM. Other important factors for the poor state of SWM services include insufficient financial outlays, shortage of equipment, unfavourable organisational set-ups, and the poor community attitudes towards environmental cleanliness. To ensure an effective, efficient and a sustainable SWM system, the role of the informal sector in waste management must be taken into consideration during the planning process. This research was carried out in the city of Nairobi with an aim of understanding the existing approaches, practices and impacts of recycling and reuse of solid wastes by the informal recycling sector. Essentially, the study focused on the socio-economic role and constraints of the recycling sector's major actors, which include: the waste pickers, NCC refuse collectors, waste dealers and the Waste Recycling Industries (WRIs). The overall aim of this study was to determine how the role of the informal recycling sector could be integrated with that of the formal sector in order to improve the SWM services in the city. The study utilised various techniques and methodologies in collecting both primary and secondary data. The major data collection methods included the use of standard questionnaires and schedules, key informant interviewing, participant observation and photography. A total of 120 waste street and dump site waste pickers, 20 waste dealers and 5 .WRIs (engaged in paper, plastic, scrap metal, glass and bone recycling) were sampled or selected in this study. To supplement these data sources, information was also obtained from the NCC refuse collectors and the small-scale metal recyclers from the Kamukunjijua-kali (informal) workshops. v ~R.P.S.IBRARY I The study's findings indicate that the waste picking occupation in the city is dominated . I by young men mainly migrants from the Central Province of Kenya, who are primary school dropouts. The waste pickers playa major role in supplying the jua-kali artisans and the large- scale WRls with most of their inputs in form of waste materials. However, the incomes earned by the waste pickers and casual workers employed at the waste buying centres and WRls are extremely low for the long hours that the work entails. On the other hand, NCC refuse collection crew have a better waste recovery opportunity than their counterparts in the informal sector because they have access to all waste production points in the City. The major contribution of the waste dealers is that they act as a linkage between the waste pickers and the WRls and other waste market outlets. The study also revealed that the profits of the waste dealers are moderate, while those of the WRIs are generally high inspite the high market competition and poor economic conditions in Kenya. However, the vulnerability of the existence of the waste pickers, waste dealers and WRls is generally conditioned by both economic and political conditions in the country. The technologies applied in large waste recycling are mainly imported, with indigenous skills dominating the informal, i.e. jua-kali sector. Despite the positive role played by the waste-recycling sector in terms of generation of employment opportunities and conservation of natural resources, there exists no government policy that promotes waste recovery and recycling in the city or in the country in general. The' NCC and the central government authorities have largely ignored and neglected the crucial role played by the informal waste recovery actors in the City. The sector is generally a manifestation of poor environmental health standards among the waste pickers, waste dealers and the workers of WRls and those employed at the waste buying centres. Based on these fieldwork results, therefore, a local environmental planning and management policy framework has been formulated in this thesis which can be implemented in integrating the role of the informal recycling sector into the formal SWM system in the City. The general recommendation is that, this sector needs administrative, financial, technical and political support. Specific issues that can be tackled in the short and long terms have also been identified and appropriate recommendations made on how to incorporate the various waste recycling actors into the formal local government waste management planning process.