Solid Waste Management, Transformation and Research in Rwanda

Watoto Vision on Africa (WVA) through its cross cutting programs that it implements in Rwanda and outside is in the process of engaging in a project on Solid Waste Management, transformation (REUSE) in the pilot districts of Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge later on the project to be expanded to the entire country.

1.   Problem Analysis

Rwandan cities are rapidly urbanizing and rapid population increase, as population grows, so does the solid waste generation increases as well. These results in a relatively large quantity of solid waste remaining poorly managed and are a challenge to the society, Today Rwandan community are more concerned about the environment and are much more aware about its activities and the impact resulting from these activities on the environment. They are demanding that waste management must be sustainable. The proper management of solid waste needs appropriate technology, which is economically affordable, socially accepted and environmentally friendly

Solid waste management is the biggest environmental issue in Rwanda, highly dependent on landfilling as the main disposal method in managing this continuous increase of solid waste generation annually.

The future of solid waste management remains unsure of, even though there are potentials for other methods of managing and minimizing solid waste. The problems associated with the management of solid waste are complex due to various factors such as the amount and composition of waste generated, rapid expansion of urban areas, and occurrence of super markets, rapid technological advancement, as well as limited energy, it is not surprising that the amount of land available is becoming scarce.

Thus, constructing new landfills is challenging, as with the land scarcity, other possible option for developing landfills would somehow be within the near vicinity of other household areas.

A typical solid waste management system in Rwanda is characterized with improper collection services (such as low collection coverage, irregular collection services), unsustainable disposal of waste without air and water pollution control (including open dumping, open burning), consequences of illegal dumping (e.g. breeding of flies and vermin), and scavenging activities

Accurate and well-established information of solid waste management and recycling in Rwanda is unfortunately unavailable due to unsystematic analysis and research among our academicians and other research centers in Rwanda, but substantial progress has been made by the government, local authorities, and private organizations to establish more comprehensive solid waste management system, source separation and recycling strategies, awareness campaigns and sensitization.

However, various issues remain unresolved despite the ongoing efforts as we face lack of public participation and commitment, lack of civic responsibility sense in managing solid waste, public perception towards solid waste as a local municipality problem, undermining the issues in solid waste management, and ineffective education.

Separation at Source today in public places

Waste separation at source is very important before the waste is being collected. When wastes are mixed, they become contaminated and useless, hence needing more strategies and higher costs to manage.  If wastes are separated at source, they are more amendable for more effective management strategies such as reusing, recycling, and composting.

Teenage mothers transform Waste to Revenue

Besides, materials that are of no use to the present owner could be a resource for another person and fed back into the economy, thus reducing wastage of money and natural resources, sadly enough; waste separation at source is not a common concept in Rwanda. It is reported that less than 1% of the country’s households separate their waste

2.   Mission of the Project

To reduce Solid waste in Gasabo district and transform them into valuable products

3.   Vision of the project

The vision of this project is to see Rwanda having Eco Cities

4.   Objectives of the Project

  • Implementing zero waste as a long term goal in order to eliminate waste and pollution in the manufacture, use, storage and recycling of materials

Activities in the project

  • Research and Needs Assessment on solid waste management and transformation value chain
    • Identification and training of 50 Waste Management community mobilizers in each district
    • Distribution of Eco – friendly buckets/bins to identified model public places for solid waste separation
    • Waste generation and Collection
    • Separation at Source
    • Waste transfer and transport at the processing site
    • Conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
    • Waste processing and transformation
    • Production of ecological, economical and high quality revenue products from municipal solid wastes (from Trash to Revenue)
    • Distribution of Eco – friendly products to the identified communities on a subsidized price to limit the imports of plastic packaging
  • Awareness and Information Campaigns as a tool for mindset change

An important step to motivate and engage the Community is via continuous public awareness campaigns based on a public IEC strategy. Activities will, for instance, include promotion of the 3R slogan – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – advertisement on publicity boards, on local radio channels, and in local newspapers, as well as workshops, exhibitions, lectures, street plays……

In addition, Eco-Clubs at Universities, Schools and youth groups will be encouraged to take an active part in the project. Some of the themes to be discussed during public awareness and motivation campaigns are as follows:

  • Consumption patterns and a sustainable development;
    • The natural source of products;
    • Recycling and reuse;
    • Littering and indiscriminate dumping of refuse on open spaces, footpaths, lanes, streets, and into drainage channels or water bodies;
    • Environmental degradation and its effects on human health.
Flower vase made out of plastic waste