Successful approaches to solid waste management in low- and middle- income countries

1 July 2019

We are on the verge of an environmental and public health crisis caused by waste. Three billion people lack access to safe waste management and disposal, and waste streams are increasing rapidly around the globe. This paper for Tearfund, co-authored by Resource Futures, demonstrates that we can effectively respond to this crisis, by scaling up approaches that are already delivering results.

The analysis showcases six heterogeneous case studies drawn from Africa and Asia, examining how they overcome the nexus of challenges associated with waste management in low- and middle-income contexts. These case studies give specific examples of how interventions can deliver four common ‘ingredients for success’:

1) Clarify the responsibilities of the different (government) agencies involved, and establish transparency and public accountability for agencies and contractors (especially in the case of efforts for system-wide reform).

2) Ensure all the right stakeholders are effectively engaged (government agencies, households, informal sector, formal sector) and coordinated, with careful attention paid to the incentives of each.

3) Deliver financial sustainability through innovative approaches to user fees and a recognition that some value can be generated from waste.

4) Invest in appropriate (often low) technology approaches and associated staff capacity building, with a view to facilitating easy replication, scale-up and integration into existing systems.

Whilst these four themes might appear straightforward, the beauty of each case study is its innovative approach to these common issues, unlocking sometimes transformational progress in an area that has been neglected for decades.

This briefing paper for Tearfund was co-authored by David Lerpiniere, Ed Cook and Carla Worth Del Pino

Read the briefing paper: Successful approaches to solid waste management in low- and middle- income countries