Africa Review Report on Waste Management - Main Report [English]
UNECA, 2009
by: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Poor waste management practices in particular the widespread dumping of wastes in water bodies and uncontrolled dump sites, aggravates the problems of generally low sanitation levels across the African continent. Urbanisation is on the rise in Africa and this trend is expected to continue in the future. Of concern is that the infrastructure and land use planning including for waste management is not coping with the growth of urban areas (around 3.5% annually, highest in the world). This is particularly urgent in the slum areas which constitute a big part of many of the cities and towns in Africa. Waste management infrastructure is largely non-existent in rural areas of Africa. Improvements in infrastructure are urgently needed to combat the high costs of health services, and hence alleviate poverty, and reduce rural-urban migration. The gap between waste management policy and legislation and actual waste management practices is widening, due to ongoing capacity constraints or non-existence of waste management facilities for the different waste streams. Resolving this capacity gap will require major investments and access to technical know how. The means for accessing these are far-fetched. Waste generation is expected to increase significantly as a result of industrialization, urbanisation and modernization of agriculture in Africa. This will further aggravate the currently-existing capacity constraints in waste management. The fast growing use of ICT and rapid turn-over in technology (particularly computers, mobile phones etc.) creates a growing E-waste stream for which there is not yet any waste management capacity, leading to codisposal of E-waste with municipal waste in dump sites. The changing lifestyles and consumption patterns of in particular the growing urban middle class is increasing the complexity and composition of waste streams in Africa. Implementation progress and achievements made/best practice Progress has been made in waste management policies and strategies. The use of economic instruments and implementation of polluter pays principles in waste management has not yet matured in most African countries. Biogas and compost production from organic waste fractions has been widely accepted in Africa as a best practice, and progress is being made in developing and implementing specific projects in various countries. Energy production from agricultural residues (including co-generation) is increasingly accepted as a best practice, and several projects have been implemented, some of these with co-funding on basis of carbon credits (with Clean Development Mechanism). Some countries have refurbishment centers for used ICT equipment which serve to extend the useful life of the products.

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United Nations