United Nations University
Solid Wastes, Poverty and the Environment in Developing Country Cities Challenges and Opportunities, 2010.
Many cities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America face serious problems managing their wastes. Two of the major problems are the insufficient collection and inappropriate final disposal of wastes. Despite spending increasing resources, many cities – particularly in Africa and Asia – collect less than half of the waste generated.
Most wastes are disposed of in open dumps, deposited on vacant land, or burned by residents in their backyards. Insufficient collection and inadequate disposal generate significant pollution problems and risks to human health and the environment. Over one billion people living in lowincome communities and slums lack appropriate waste management services. Given the rapid population growth and urbanization in many cities, the management of wastes tends to further deteriorate. This paper examines the challenges and opportunities.
CAIRO, 26 January 2010 (IRIN) – The Egyptian government’s decision to cull all of the country’s 300,000 pigs in May 2009 is increasingly being viewed by experts and officials as a gross mistake as piles of organic waste the pigs once ate accumulate in Cairo’s streets, posing serious health hazards.
The month-long cull was ostensibly to stem the spread of H1N1 influenza, but the government later said it was simply a general health measure.
The cull hit the livelihoods of 70,000 former pig farmers and unofficial rubbish collectors and their families in the Cairo area, according to local NGO Association for the Protection of the Environment.
During a recent stormy session of parliament, Cairo Governor Abdelazeem Wazeer called the decision to cull the pigs a “mistake” and legislator Hamdy el-Sayed, chairman of the Doctors’ Association, called it a “national scandal”.
“Our streets are overcome by waste. This is catastrophic,” he said.
“The decision to kill the pigs was wrong and hasty,” Fahti Shabana, an Egyptian medical expert, told IRIN. “There could’ve been better alternatives. The pigs could’ve been moved from their farms in the cities to the desert.”
Shabana warned that some of Cairo’s rubbish-filled streets could become breeding grounds for diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Areas of central Cairo, Giza and Daqahlia on the capital’s periphery are the most affected by the pig cull.
In Cairo, the livelihoods of unofficial rubbish collectors – known as ‘Zabalin’ to Egyptians – and pig farmers were very much intertwined as the former collected organic waste from the capital’s streets and sold it to farmers to feed their pigs.
With the pigs gone, the `Zabalin’ have lost a major source of income and have no incentive to collect the waste from the streets, they say.
“Rubbish collectors are poor. Organic waste used to bring them money after they sold it to pig farmers. But now, there’s a market for plastic, paper and glass items only,” said Israel Ayad, a rubbish collector-cum-pig farmer who is also an unofficial spokesman for the `Zabalin’.
Ayad, in his early seventies, used to own around 50,000 pigs which used to “consume thousands of tons of organic waste every day”, he said.
Photo: Amr Emam/IRIN
|Cairo produces 25,000 tons of waste a day|
Waste disposal, recycling problems
Cairo, which accounts for 55 percent of the country’s waste, produces 25,000 tons of waste a day, Environment Ministry officials say.
Organic waste makes up almost 70 percent of Cairo’s rubbish, while plastic, paper and glass items make up the remaining 30 percent, according to Ahmed Nasar, deputy chairman of the capital’s cleaning authority.
Compounding the problem are ongoing contractual disputes between the government and the foreign companies it has been commissioning to collect rubbish from the capital’s streets for years, according to Mohamed Abdel Raziq, an official from the cleaning authority.
These companies had stopped working pending the renegotiation of contracts, he said.
Members of the ruling National Democratic Party say Egypt needs an initial LE 2.5 billion (US$460 million) to tackle its garbage problem. They say more recycling factories must be built to add to the existing 160, which can only process about a quarter of the nation’s rubbish, according to the Environment Ministry.
Despite the cull, H1N1 has claimed the lives of 230 Egyptians to date and 15,000 people have contracted it, according to the Health Ministry.
According to a 22 January World Health Organization update on H1N1, “Egypt is now reporting a declining trend after increases in respiratory diseases activity throughout December 2009, suggesting a recent peak in activity during early January 2010.”
Spatial dependency of V. cholera prevalence on open space refuse dumps in Kumasi, Ghana: a spatial statistical modelling. Author: Frank B Osei and Alfred A Duker. International Journal of Health Geographics 2008, 7:62.
Cholera has persisted in Ghana since its introduction in the early 70’s. From 1999 to 2005, the Ghana Ministry of Health officially reported a total of 26,924 cases and 620 deaths to the WHO.
Etiological studies suggest that the natural habitat of V. cholera is the aquatic environment.
Its ability to survive within and outside the aquatic environment makes cholera a complex health problem to manage. Once the disease is introduced in a population, several environmental factors may lead to prolonged transmission and secondary cases.
An important environmental factor that predisposes individuals to cholera infection is sanitation. In this study, we exploit the importance of two main spatial measures of sanitation in cholera transmission in an urban city, Kumasi.
These are proximity and density of refuse dumps within a community.
Results: A spatial statistical modelling carried out to determine the spatial dependency of cholera prevalence on refuse dumps show that, there is a direct spatial relationship between cholera prevalence and density of refuse dumps, and an inverse spatial relationship between cholera prevalence and distance to refuse dumps. A spatial scan statistics also identified four significant spatial clusters of cholera; a primary cluster with greater than expected cholera prevalence, and three secondary clusters with lower than expected cholera prevalence.
A GIS based buffer analysis and a quantitative assessment of distance discrimination of the buffer zones around refuse dumps show that the optimum spatial discrimination of cholera occurs at 500m from refuse dumps. This indicates that the minimum distance within which refuse dumps should not be sited within community centres is 500m.
Conclusion: The results suggest that proximity and density of open space refuse dumps play a contributory role in cholera infection in Kumasi.