UJ lecturer examines SA challenges in municipal solid waste management at World Health Congress

Municipal Solid Waste generation has become an inevitable consequence of lifestyles and daily living. However, the nature (quantity and quality) of this waste stream can vary and is largely dependent upon the manner in which waste generation is managed, by both government and the public.

A lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, Ms Flory Senekane, delivered a presentation entitled “The Challenges in municipal solid waste management in South Africa” during May 2016 at the 14th International Federation of Environmental Health World Congress held at the University of Malawi, Lilongwe, to investigate the attitudes and behavior of individuals and households toward solid waste practices.

Ms Flory Senekane is a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Health, within the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Senekane’s study revealed that challenges faced by municipalities particularly in the urban areas are caused by lack of infrastructure to cope with increased population; transportation of waste from residences to the landfill sites; collection staff found physically unfit as required by the role; no storage receptacles on informal settlements; and residents not informed about mitigating measures such as the 4 Rs (Recycle, Reduce, Reuse and Recover).

“Municipalities should aim at improving waste management services by considering the existing level of development. This should be achieved by benchmarking against the international waste management service standards. In South Africa, the global standards add further requirements on top of the existing national standards, ” says Ms Senekane.

“Municipal ward committees are considered as instruments of a strong democracy because the municipality is a level of government where development matters emanates. These findings will assist both national and provincial governments to extend their commitment in assisting local government to develop and implement waste management plans,” added Senekane.

She further recommended that as part of Environmental Management Planning, each municipality should have a comprehensive integrated waste management plan which includes audit planning, licensing, construction and maintenance objectives that are subject to accounting measures.

Senekane concluded saying “the national and provincial governments need to involve the local government and its people through consultation in the process of Integrated Development Plans, service delivery, budget and performance management. Municipalities must be accountable for service delivery to their own people, and government needs to commit itself in improving accountability in the municipalities which leads to a sustainable development through proper management of waste.”

The International Federation of Environmental Health World congress provides a platform for knowledge exchange of the most recent scientific information and technological advances among Environmental Health practitioners for responding to emerging environmental health risks in an attempt to mitigate against the associated health and economic consequences.

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