Solid waste management in small towns: a case of Ibanda Town Council
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The overall objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of existing solid waste management arrangement in Ibanda Town Council and generate baseline information on the characterization of solid waste stream and status of solid waste management that can be used to design short and long term management plans for small towns in Uganda. The principal research technique used in this research was a questionnaire. Twenty (20) households were randomly selected to participate in the focused group discussions. Key informants from the public sector included officials from Ibanda Town Council and Ibanda District. The results obtained indicated that the major source of solid waste is business premises. Food materials and paper waste types (such as newspapers, boxes) dominated more than others for a particular activity while surgical dressings and syringes were only limited to clinics. Solid Waste generated during seven days by a sample of 173 households/businesses chosen through a systematic simple random sampling design was collected, weighed and classified. The average waste generated was 4kg/house/day at an average number of 5 persons per household (about 6,876 tonnes per year). Although 49.7% of the respondents dump their solid waste in garbage skips provided by the Town Council, the skips have an open top which allows the spread of refuse by animals and scavengers. Typically, the collection services are not regular, with waste collected on a daily basis, but sometimes only once or twice a week. The garbage workers transfer the refuse manually onto a truck using a shovel and haul it to the nearest banana plantations on request made by the owners in advance (no matter the type or quantity) or sometimes to illegal dumping. If the disposal distance is longer than 3 km, the banana plantation owner meets the fuel costs of the truck. The fear of emptying of the garbage skips has made land owners reluctant to let their plots be used for stationing communal collection waste containers. Due to continuous breakdown of the truck, the proper garbage collection frequencies are rarely achieved as neglected overfilled skips and spillage were observed. Some of the wastes end up in backyard gardens to be used as manure, animal feeds, burnt and buried or left to decompose in open spaces. The study further reveals that bad smell (49%), rodents (16%) and smoke (14%) are the major problems faced and privatization of waste collection services (31%) was suggested by the majority respondents as a major solution towards solid waste management (SWM). Metal recycling and organic waste compositing is privately undertaken on a small scale. However, the low commitment of Ibanda Town Council (ITC) in ensuring that it meets its financial obligations of subsidizing waste collection, ignorance and attitude of the general public are also hindering the success of the programme. The study further reveals that despite being perceived as a socially low class activity, waste scavenging plays a very crucial role of recovering and reusing materials and ultimately reduce the amount of waste that is finally disposed of. However, the absence of a landfill has encouraged open dumping. Therefore, inadequacy of financial resources within the small towns in Uganda and Ibanda in particular has necessitated the researcher to develop a low cost service delivery model. I recommend a bye-law on solid waste management to be formulated, introduction of a public private partnership in solid waste management, public sensitization conducted, and home/large-scale composting to be established by the Town Council.