Dar es Salaam — The private sector in Tanzania has been challenged to see solid waste as an opportunity for growing the economy, by recycling such waste and turning it into useful products.
The deputy director of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Dr Fedust Makota, said as much at the 'National Stakeholders Workshop on Preparation of National Waste Management Strategy' conducted in Dar es Salaam, yesterday.
Solid wastes are any discarded or abandoned materials. These can be solid, liquid, semi-solid or containerised gaseous material - and include waste tires, septage, scrap metal, garbage, empty cans, construction and demolition debris, abandoned furniture, appliances, toys, etc., etc.
Noting that solid waste is mainly produced in major metropolitan surroundings - and that not all solid waste us entirely useless - Dr Makota called upon Tanzanians to join hands in supporting the government in efforts to harness solid waste as an opportunity to boost the country's economy.
"It is estimated that Dar es Salaam city alone generates about 4,600 tonnes of solid waste per day," he said - adding that the rate is steadily growing with the passage of time.
It is estimated that less than 40 per cent of the total waste generated in the city is collected and disposed of in designated dump sites.
According to Dr Makota, about 60 per cent of solid waste is casually dumped by the roadside, in storm drains and similar places, thus contributing to health problems for residents.
Metropolitan settlements are expanding rapidly across Tanzania as the population increases at an exceptional rate. Also, consumption patterns are rapidly changing - which means that wastes from consuming supermarket and fast food products become the norm.
The regional subprogram coordinator (chemicals, waste and air quality) of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), Mr. Abdoulraman Barry, explains that waste management issues are cross-cutting and, as such, need to be given greater attention.
This is especially the case in most developing countries, including those in Africa, because that is where much of the world's solid waste is produced as a matter of course.
"If you take into account the 50 biggest dump sites in the world, 19 of them are in Africa alone - and it is estimated that, in 15 to 20 years to come, the ratio of dump sites will be doubled," Mr Barry said.
According to the World Bank, with rapid population growth and urbanisation, municipal waste generation is expected to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025.