The solid waste management system run by the local authorities has the following entities:
- Facilities: a dumpsite
- Equipment: 3-5 collection trucks
- Labourers: around 30 workers who collect and manage waste
- Citizens and business owners who bring their waste out for collection and pay a collection fee
Collection trucks move around some of the neighbourhoods in the town to collect all sorts of waste but glass. Truck drivers use a whistle to let people know of their arrival. Then, people come out of their houses and businesses and bring their waste to the truck.
As it can be seen in the pictures, it is mostly women who perform this task.
Trucks get full after 2-5 hours and move to the dumpsite. At the dumpsite they unload the waste and labourers work to make all the piles even.
Besides the inherent limitations of a dumpsite based SWMS (the dumpsite is filling up and no waste fraction is officially segregated for post treatment (waste characterisation results)) , this SWMS encounters further limitations:
- Rain and roads make it difficult to access some neighbourhoods
- If citizens do not collaborate and, for example, leave their waste on the road side, the collection process is prolonged
- Although fees and fines are in place, citizens do still sometimes opt for burning their waste in their backyards, especially during the dry season. In fact, the waste burning practice is also carried out at the dumpsite due to the above mentioned space limitation
This is not the only “official” waste collection scheme. On the “Clean Up day”, on the last Saturday of every month, everybody has to go out and clean the environment around their houses. We had the pleasure to participate and it was impressive to see the commitment of the citizens and the result of that community work.
This day, of course, does not avoid some common images like these or these:
It is also worth mentioning the existence of informal waste collectors who specialise in plastic and metal. Some of these have access to the dumpsite where they are allowed to collect for a fee.
Finally, it should be mentioned that there are neighbourhoods in Njombe where the truck cannot collect the waste due to condition of the paths and limited resources. The waste generated there ends up burnt in domestic pits at the backyards or dumped in the environment.