Professor David C. Wilson
Waste & Resources Management Consultant
Visiting Professor in Waste Management
Imperial College, London

International Workshop on Resilience and Waste Management in Developing Countries

An international workshop on community resilience and waste management will be taking place in The Gambia 25-30 April 2017. Organised jointly by the Arkleton Trust and WasteAid UK, the event will involve communities from The Gambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria and India. WasteAid UK is currently undertaking David Wilson’s Presidential Project for the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), to compile practical guidance on how to provide community level waste management and how to develop waste and recycling livelihoods. The workshopwill allow this guidance to be tested and developed further, ensuring it fits closely with the needs of the target users.

The first part of the workshop will focus on community resilience, encouraging attendees to share their experiences and good practice in anticipating risk, limiting impact, and ways to survive, adapt and grow stronger. Nicola Swan of the Arkleton Trust, an expert in rural development and knowledge exchange, said: “The workshop will provide a creative space for grassroots community practitioners, leaders and policy makers to come together and share experiences and knowledge, and to learn from each other. The ingenuity of communities to succeed is profound and many communities have addressed issues in innovative ways.  Lack of infrastructure and other systemic issues remain a challenge though, and for this reason, we will be inviting a few policy makers and academics to benefit from the opportunity to hear things ‘from the horse’s mouth.’”

The second part of the workshop will cover waste management as a key tool for resilient communities. Waste that is not managed can become a hazard for people and wildlife. With simple recycling skills, however, people can keep their communities clean, create jobs and earn an income. WasteAid UK and other recycling specialists will be sharing recycling skills such as making charcoal from woody waste, fertiliser from food waste, and construction materials from plastic waste. WasteAid UK previously set up the Brikama Waste Reprocessing Centre in 2016 in partnership with Women’s Initiative The Gambia and is currently developing a Guide to Community Waste Management, with funding from CIWM, which will be reviewed by workshop participants. Mike Webster of WasteAid UK said: “Improving waste management is vital for communities to prosper and stay healthy. The event will allow skill sharing between community waste managers located in geographically diverse parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and will help WasteAid UK improve the techniques that turn waste into an economic opportunity”.

Achieving the waste-related SDGs

Ljiljana Rodic and David C Wilson’s paper in the peer-reviewed open access journal Sustainability was published today: Resolving Governance Issues to Achieve Priority Sustainable Development Goals Related to Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries. As a key utility service that more than 2 billion people are currently lacking, solid waste management (SWM) is a crosscutting issue that can be directly linked to 12 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Distinguishing between physical components and governance aspects of SWM, this research focuses on governance issues concerning basic solid waste collection services and controlled disposal, thus addressing the ‘How’ and the ‘Who’ dimensions of a SWM system.

As a form of transdisciplinary research, the findings from the literature on governance issues in SWM were iteratively subjected to several rounds of commentary by a large group of stakeholders from six continents, within the authors’ work for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s 2015 Global Waste Management Outlook. The study identifies a combination of complementary instruments required for extending collection to all and bringing disposal under control. While municipalities have a legal responsibility for providing services to their citizens, various service providers can contribute to an effective SWM system. Appropriate forms of funding are essential to secure financial sustainability of the services under the local conditions of affordability and willingness to pay. As new services require behavioural change on the part of citizens and municipal waste departments alike, communication and exchange with other stakeholders function as enabling and supporting factors. The significance of capacity development is highlighted.

DCW speaking at two upcoming CIWM events

Professor David C Wilson will speak at the CIWM Northern Ireland Conference and Exhibition on 29 March 2017 on: REUSE: Time to make things happen, based on a major CIWM report on the state of reuse across the five nations of the British Isles, published in October 2016. He will also make the keynote address at a Red Hot Topics Open Meeting of CIWM’s South-West Centre on April 7 2017, when his topic will be: UK waste and resource management in a global context – CIWM’s role in addressing future challenges.

DCW prepares to become CIWM President in 2017

Professor David C Wilson was installed as Senior Vice President of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management on 18 October 2016. CIWM has now commissioned WasteAid UK to undertake his Presidential project, which will prepare guidance on low-cost reuse and recycling technologies for use in low- and middle- income countries. This was one of the recommendations for follow-up work coming out of the 2015 UNEP Global Waste Management Outlook, for which DCW was the Editor-in-Chief.

Further information is available in a joint CIWM and Wasteaid UK press release issued today. Professor Wilson said: “More than two billion people worldwide do not have a waste collection service, which results in severe public health problems – through children playing amongst waste, blocked drains, infectious diseases and inhalation of smoke from open burning. Even when waste is collected, uncontrolled dumping is the norm – the waste of some 3 billion people isn’t disposed of safely.

“Many cities in Africa and Asia are growing so rapidly that in 15-20 years’ time they will be generating twice as much waste as they do today. Already struggling with the waste crisis, these cities desperately need targeted support from the international community. In the meantime, sustainable and self-financing community-led solutions can make immediate improvements, hence the focus of this research.”

WasteAid UK delivers training in community waste management in low- and middle-income countries. In its first year the charity has worked in the Gambia, Senegal, Ghana and Kenya, setting up community recycling facilities and positively impacting the lives of some 124,000 people.

Mike Webster of WasteAid UK said: “This guidance, funded by CIWM, will enable us to help thousands of communities around the world to improve the way they manage their waste. It will show people how to treat different materials to maximise their value and minimise risks to human health and the environment.” DCW is Patron of Wasteaid UK.

New map comparing MSWM around the World

The 2016 World Population Data Sheet focuses on human needs and sustainable resources, and features a map comparing municipal solid waste generation and management in cities around the world. For reliable and comparable data, the US think tank Population Resources Bureau (PRB) turned to the Wasteaware benchmark indicators. The map features 18 cities selected from the current database of 40 cities prepared and collated by Professor David C Wilson and colleagues.

The World Population Data Sheet (WPDS) is an authoritative resource prepared annually by the long-established PRB, and widely used across the World. This year’s special focus, ‘Human Needs, Sustainable Resources’, is the subject of an online Insights feature. The inclusion of MSWM recognises it is an essential utility service to protect public health and both the local and global environment. The map highlights that waste quantities rise with the income level of the country. For each of the 18 cities, data is also shown for the Wasteaware benchmark indicators for public health (% collection coverage), environmental protection (% of collected waste properly disposed) and resource management (%recycled). The Wasteaware indicators provide a reliable comparison of the performance of a city’s MSWM system; the database for 40 cities has been prepared and collated By Professor David C Wilson (Imperial College London), Dr Ljiljana Rodic (Independent Consultant, Leiden, Netherlands) and Dr Costas Velis (University of Leeds). The WPDS may be downloaded as a pdf, and a data visualisation tool and teaching resources are also available.

Building the evidence base for better waste management

DCW is participating in a live discussion this afternoon on ‘Building the evidence base for better waste management’, as part of the wastewise.be 2016 Global Dialogue on Waste. The particular focus will be on how to make the political case for waste management as a priority in developing countries. Broadcast live at 1500 GMT, 1600 UK time Thursday 01 September; later available as a video. The discussion is between Professor David C Wilson and Zoë Lenkiewicz, the communications manager of Wasteaid UK.