Uganda Offers Lessons In Tapping The Power Of Solid Waste

Solid waste in Mulago, Kampala, 2010. The city’s residents have found ways to recycle waste into energy. SuSanA Secretariat/Flickr, CC BY-SA

By Shuaib Lwasa

In places where municipalities continuously fail to collect and manage waste, authorities tend to concentrate their efforts on a few areas. These are often in a city’s wealthier sections. Informal settlements remain under-served or are not served at all. And so, waste accumulates.

Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is home to 1.5 million residents. It is growing at an annual rate of 5.1%. The expansion of cities like Kampala makes service provision difficult; infrastructure is poor and so are the roads that connect its neighborhoods. About 87% of Kampala’s residents live in informal houses; 78% have access to electricity in their houses and only 17% have piped water. An estimated 1,300 tons per day of waste are produced in the city and about 50% is collected and transported to the landfill.

In this context, the absence of waste management and sanitation has led residents to come up with solutions to make useful products out of organic waste materials. One such innovation is producing energy briquettes from both organic and human wastes, or fecal sludge.

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