Nine Development Bands – a new theory of waste and development

Professor David C Wilson is pleased to co-author an important new publication The Nine Development Bands: A conceptual framework and global theory of waste and development. The open access paper in ISWA’s peer-reviewed journal Waste Management & Research can be downloaded freely. The ‘9 DBs’ builds on the integrated sustainable waste management (ISWM) analytical framework to help characterise waste and resources management (WaRM) systems in cities and countries. Based on over 100 years of combined experience of the authors (Andrew Whiteman, Mike Webster and DCW), the 9DBs is a powerful addition to the waste management practitioner’s toolkit, bringing depth and nuance to understanding of WaRM systems globally.

The early DBs reflect stepwise improvement towards the new baseline of meeting the SDG 11.6.1 indicators of universal collection and management in controlled facilities (DB5); while later DBs represent two prevailing routes to move towards environmentally sound management (ESM) and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). An aspirational DB Zero, a real circular economy, sits above all 9 DBs, accessible via multiple pathways, posing an ultimate challenge for development practice. The 9DBs contextualise the challenge of meeting the waste-related SDGs, in particular for developing countries striving towards SDG 11.6.1 but also for all countries aspiring to a circular economy. Whether you are a practitioner, decision-maker, service provider, or sector activist, the 9DBs will help you to identify the key pressure points for catalysing change, and focus your time and resources on achieving maximum impact.

Benchmarking performance of SWM systems in East Africa

Professor David C Wilson has been working for the last two years with the Rwandan academic Telesphore Kabera to apply the Wasteaware indicators to benchmark performance of the solid waste management (SWM) and recycling system in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Their results form the basis of a paper published today in the first ever open access issue of the long established ISWA peer-reviewed journal Waste Management & Research. The paper uses previously unpublished results from the Wasteaware database to compare Kigali’s performance with four other East African capital cities – Dar-es-Salaam, Kampala, Nairobi and Maputo.
The Wasteaware benchmark indicators grew out of work originally carried out for UN-Habitat’s Soild Waste Management in the World’s Cities (2010). They provide a standardised method to characterise the performance of a city’s SWM and recycling system across some 15 indicators, some quantitative and some qualitative, covering both waste generation, the physical aspects of waste and resource management, and various governance aspects. Results for the first 40 cities were used extensively in UNEP and ISWA’s inaugural Global Waste Management Outlook (2015). They are now being applied widely, both to characterise the baseline position in a city; to identify priority areas for improvement; and to monitor progress over time.

From this paper on East Africa, the stand-out result is the relatively high collection coverage achieved in two of the cities: in Maputo with extensive international technical assistance, and in Kigali using its own local resources. In both cases, governance factors are key. Kigali uses a public-private partnership (PPP), with exclusive franchises in 35 sectors being tendered every three years; households pay an affordable fee depending on their ability to pay (the service is free to the poorest category); 95% fee collection rates are achieved, partly through co-collection with charges for local security patrols, which is a service people value highly given the recent history of the country.

Another key priority to improve solid waste management across East Africa is to eliminate open dumping – only Kampala currently has an engineered disposal site. Recycling rates also need to be increased – only Nairobi currently has a good baseline to build on (30%). Common weaknesses include a lack of segregation at source; and of institutional capacity and of available and reliable waste data.

DCW public lecture and webinar in London

Professor David C Wilson will be presenting a talk on Integrated Sustainable Waste Management in Developing Countries on Monday 16 March 2015. This is part of the Thomas Telford Prestige Lecture Series at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) – these are public lectures on selected Monday evenings from January through to April from 1800-1935 at the ICE in Great George Street. Improving solid waste management is a major challenge in developing countries. There are many serious problems but no universal answer. Solutions need to be developed locally and tailored specifically to local needs and conditions. The lecture is also available to watch live online with the opportunity to pose questions. Follow the links to register to either attend in person or watch online.

The five lectures in the series are all based on award winning papers from the ICE publication awards – the related paper by David C Wilson, Costas Velis and Ljiljana Rodic won the ICE Telford Premium Medal 2014, acknowledging it as one of the top papers across all the ICE journals. It was published in the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Waste and Resource Management journal and is free to download.

Municipal solid waste management is one of the major responsibilities of a city government, and an essential utility service that we all tend to take for granted. Uncollected solid wastes present a public health risk – either directly to children living with waste piles, or breathing the smoke from uncontrolled burning – or indirectly through blocked drains and water courses providing stagnant water and breeding grounds for infectious diseases, or causing widespread flooding. When collected, it is necessary for wastes to be subject to environmentally sound management – large scale uncontrolled disposal can result in serious air, water, land and ocean pollution. The challenges facing developing country cities are growing fast: populations are rising, people are migrating from rural areas to the cities, waste generation per capita is increasing as economies grow and the nature of the waste is changing – many cities in Africa and Asia expect their waste quantities to double within 20 years.

This paper presents the results of six years’ work to benchmark the performance of cities around the world in tackling their solid waste management. Our data show that performance has improved significantly since 2000; from a relatively low baseline, it is already commonplace to achieve 95% rates of collection coverage and controlled disposal in middle-income cities, and 50% in low-income cities. However many challenges remain in the lower income countries – so much so that the continuing lack of basic services to billions worldwide has been described as ‘the solid waste emergency’.

How can we rise to this challenge? Solutions need to address both the physical components – collection, disposal, recycling – and the governance aspects – inclusivity of users and service providers; financial sustainability; and coherent, sound institutions underpinned by proactive policies. Our results show that recycling rates of 20-30% are achieved by the informal sector in many lower income countries, at no direct cost to the city authorities – presenting a major opportunity for all key stakeholders to develop win-win solutions to the benefit of all.

The evidence suggests that efficient, effective and affordable systems are those tailored to local needs and conditions, developed with direct involvement of service beneficiaries. Despite the remaining challenges, evidence of recent improvements suggests that sustainable solid waste and resources management is feasible for developing countries.

Parallel publications include the UN-Habitat book on Solid Waste Management in the World’s Cities; the paper of SWM in 20 cities; and anaccount of the ‘Wasteaware’ ISWM indicator set for benchmarking the performance of a city’s solid waste management system.

DCW in Argentina

Professor David C Wilson visited Argentina earlier this month at the invitation of the British Embassy. The Embassy had been asked for help with addressing their solid waste management challenges by the Province of Buenos Aires, and commissioned DCW to assess the priority needs of the Province and to advise on where those needs are best matched by UK expertise. DCW was also a keynote speaker at a conference on 7 November organised by the University of San Martin.

DCW used the ‘Wasteaware’ Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) benchmark indicators, which he has developed over the last 5 years with an international team, both to gather information on a systematic basis from meetings with local experts, and to provide a diagnostic tool for identifying priority needs at a high level. DCW presented a paper updating progress on developing the indicators at the ISWM World Congress in October 2013.