Harare Struggles with Garbage Crisis

April 21, 2024
Heaps of uncollected garbage have become common at Mbare Musika 680x380 | Report Focus News
Heaps of uncollected garbage have become common at Mbare Musika 680x380

Harare City is facing a mounting challenge with garbage collection, as the city generates nearly 1,000 tonnes of solid waste daily, while its fleet of 25 refuse trucks can only manage to collect 360 tonnes per day. This imbalance has worsened the solid waste crisis, leading to the proliferation of large garbage dumps across the city.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Harare town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango stated that residential areas are the primary contributors to this waste, accounting for about 70 percent, while industrial and commercial activities make up the remaining 30 percent. He elaborated, “The city’s current refuse management assets, including 15 compactors, seven tipper trucks, and three skip trucks, have the capacity to collect 360 tonnes per day. Additionally, the city has established material recovery centers, where 5 percent of the waste generated is recycled.”

The shortage of adequate refuse trucks has led to the emergence and recurrence of waste dumps throughout the city. Engineer Chisango outlined plans to address this issue, stating, “This year, the city plans to procure 15 refuse compactors, five skip trucks, and three hook-loader trucks, along with associated bins, which will increase the city’s collection capacity by a further 485 tonnes per day.” Additionally, Harare intends to construct more material recovery centers and engage private waste collectors to bolster waste management efforts.

Material recovery centers play a crucial role in waste management by sorting and separating recyclable materials such as paper, plastic, and metal from organic waste and general trash.

Last year, President Mnangagwa declared a “state of disaster” in all four local authorities under Harare Metropolitan Province due to poor waste management. Environmental Management Agency (EMA) environment education and publicity manager Ms. Amkela Sidange highlighted the improvements in waste management following the declaration and the subsequent rollout of Operation Chenesa Harare. She stated, “The agency mobilized over 800 public waste bins and removed an estimated 2,000 illegal dumps across the province during the operation. Waste collection increased to an estimated average of 800 tonnes a day compared to around 200 tonnes outside the operations.”

Ms. Sidange emphasized the importance of local authorities committing to providing consistent service delivery. She urged the council to develop a sustainability plan monitored by the agency and to promote community-based recycling initiatives by establishing recycling centres to support waste separation at various levels.