Poor waste disposal and management pose a threat to health and the environment

Poor waste disposal and management pose a threat to health and the environment


  • Poor waste disposal in Kampala’s slum areas poses health and environmental threats. Despite efforts, waste collection falls short, leading to pollution and disease. Government policies and community involvement are needed for effective waste management.

Poor waste disposal and management pose a threat to health and the environment. The status of waste disposal in the slum areas of Kampala is highly unhygienic and unsatisfactory. With an increase in the urban population and rising demand for food essentials, there has been a rise in the amount of waste generated daily by each household. According to Kampala City Authority (KCCA), which is responsible for collecting garbage and waste management, it acknowledges that the amount of waste generated overwhelms its capacity to collect and dispose. This is evidenced by the garbage that is seen along the pathways and streets in the slum areas of the Kampala city.

Out of 1200-1500 tonnes of garbage generated every day, only 400-500 tonnes are collected, resulting in a collection rate of only 40%. This means that 60% of solid waste generated daily is not properly collected and disposed of, leading to indiscriminate disposal by the public.

Human activities generate waste, and the amounts tend to increase as the demand and quality of life increase. There are emerging types of waste such as e-waste, computers, cellphones, electronic masks, sanitary towels, diapers, and others that are likely to create more challenges. Urbanization and industrialization have seen an influx of people move from rural areas to urban areas, resulting in unplanned settlements in the city, especially in the slum areas of Kisenyi, Katanga, Kavule, Bwaise, Kamokya, and many others. This has led to insufficient space to store recyclable plastic waste, particularly in improvised urban areas like slums, where about 60% of the Kampala population live.

Poor waste disposal has led to blockage of drainage patterns, leading to increased dirty stagnant water, which has increased breeding places for mosquitoes, thus increasing the incidence and prevalence of malaria. Moreover, poor waste disposal has led to the contamination of water sources, posing a high risk of contracting waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and fever, especially among the vulnerable populations in slums. Many people die of diarrhea and cholera, especially children in the slum areas, due to poor hygiene and sanitation, drinking of contaminated water, and poor sanitation, which are mainly attributed to poor waste disposal.

Dumping of waste on the streets and pathways has increased more environmental threats such as land degradation, water and air pollution, obstruction of drainage, loss of biodiversity, emissions of methane impacting the quality of air, and climate change. The issues of poor waste management continue to rise due to poor urban planning, infrastructure, and inadequate funding. The rapid population growth has outpaced the ability of the urban authorities to provide adequate housing, roads, water supplies, and garbage collection centers.

Although organizations and urban authorities have tried to work on the issue of waste disposal, a lot more interventions need to be put in place. Therefore, I recommend that the government should put in place policies to regulate waste management and also encourage investment in industries that turn waste into energy since the option of landfills for garbage only increases the production of methane in the environment. Government authorities such as KCCA, NEMA, and the Ministry of Water and Environment should work together to develop composting plants to clean the environment. However, most of the composting plants are overwhelmed by waste dumped at these sites. These plants are used as dumping sites yet they should be used for processing waste into composite manure.

Ensuring the involvement of civil society groups, youths, women, private sector, and cultural organizations in climate action is crucial.

The writer is the co-founder of Youth for Nature Conservancy (YNC). For further inquiries, contact youthfornatureconservancy@gmail.com.

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