Dar es Salaam — As it rises to the mega city status in a decade's time, Dar es Salaam will need more people like Laurian Mchau, who uses solid wastes to make charcoal and liquid wastes to make fertilisers, and Issa Lema, who collects plastic wastes, and recycles them into raw materials for producing plastic products to ensure sustainable waste management.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that by 2030, Dar es Salaam could be home to 10 million people, the mark that would put it in the ranks of the world's mega cities.
Dar es Salaam is among the African cities experiencing rapid growth with studies showing that the city of over 5 million residents is on its way to becoming a mega city by the first quarter of this century.
The AfDB estimates that by 2030, Dar es Salaam could be home to 10 million people, the mark that would put it in the ranks of world's mega cities.
Its population is projected to grow by 85 per cent through 2025 and could surpass the 21 million mark by 2050.
The predictions worry many with some analysts calling the growth of Dar es Salaam into a global megapolis "a potential time bomb."
They have called for concrete plans to overhaul the city's infrastructure, enabling it to efficiently respond to issues like solid waste production.
And that is exactly what the city fathers are striving to achieve, counting on recycling to significantly and successfully manage solid waste.
Mr Mchau's and Mr Lema's are among the 33 factories currently available in the city, which engage in recycling activities under close supervision of the Dar es Salaam City Council.
Waste generation doubled
Solid waste generated in Dar es Salaam doubled to 4,600 tonnes in 2017 from 2,000 tonnes recorded in 1998, according to a 2017 Tanzania Mainland report by the National Environment Statistics. Published in 2018 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the report said the amount of wastes generated per day in Dar es Salaam is expected to triple to 12,000 tonnes come 2025.
The solid waste generation rate in Dar es Salaam is estimated to be about 0.815 kg/day per capita (2012 Population and Housing Census), which is higher than typical values for developing countries, ranging from 0.4 to 0.6 kg/day per capita. Approximately 50 to 60 per cent of the waste is readily biodegradable.
The report estimates that 80 per cent of the generated waste can be categorised as municipal waste whereby households constitute 75 per cent, institutions 0.5 per cent, markets 3.5 per cent, street sweeping 0.5 per cent and other sources 0.5 per cent. The other 20 per cent is produced by the private sector, which includes industries.
Little is taken to dump site
However, with all these waste produced daily in the city, a very small portion of it (45 per cent) is sent to the dump site, according to Mr Shedrack Maximillian, who heads the waste management department at the Dar es Salaam City Council.
This is an equivalent of only 1,200 tonnes of the total generated solid waste. The remaining tonnes are still piled up at open spaces, sewer pipes, roads, and human residences.
Being the custodian of the city, the Dar es Salaam City Council owns and takes care of a 75-hectare Pugu dump site, which is run on the basis of controlled dumping (not landfill).
This has led to piles of waste at the dump site, approximated to reach two to three metres high in an area of almost 45 hectares.
To curb the problem, the city's authority considered recycling as one of the best available options.
This was not surprising for recycling has been acknowledged worldwide to play a significant role in managing solid wastes
What used to make Dar es Salaam different was that for a long time, there has not been an official recognition of recyclers in the country, something which hindered formalisation of their activities.
It was against this background that the Dar es Salaam City Council formulated, in December 2016, a policy meant to address recycling issues.
The policy, among other things, sought to create numerous recycling projects in partnership with stakeholders in the industry, recognising and bringing together its actors, and setting aside areas for construction of small scale recycling industries.
A matter of common sense
Mr Maximilian says the idea of enacting the policy was imperative because recycling activities could not grow without any policy document in place.
"It's just a matter of common sense," notes affable Maximilian during an interview at his office.
"Of the 4,600 tonnes of solid wastes produced in the city daily, 51 per cent of them are organic while the rest are non-organic ones, which can be recycled to produce a wide range of high quality products," he adds.
Though there are some minor challenges, the implementation of the policy so far appears quite successful, at least in the eyes of the city's officials. For example, two areas have so far been set for the establishment of small-scale recycling factories.
One is in Kigamboni, known as Kisarawe II with 153 hectares and the other is at Kisopwa, in Mloganzila, with 120 hectares. The areas are intended to be centres for waste-related factories. They are not yet operational awaiting environmental impact assessment.
Mr Maximilian says that one major challenge in the management of solid waste in the city because waste facilities are located far from residences. "You cannot simply expect that waste will be transported from Bunju to Pugu-Kinyamwezi dump site," he observes.
Stars of a key project
This was the reason behind coming up with a project known as 'Integrated Solid Waste Management in Dar es Salaam' which is expected to overhaul the whole system in the management of the solid waste in Dar es Salaam.
The project will be funded by the government of The Netherlands, but it has yet to kick off because of some logistical issues.
The project, if started, will cover a wide range of issues. Specifically, on the recycling, however, it intends to develop modern transfer stations in strategic areas already set aside by the city. The stations will receive waste from various areas across the city before they are to be transported to the dump site.
While at the centres, the waste will be sorted out. The recyclable waste will be taken to the recycling factories, which will be established in areas where these centres will be based, and the remaining ones will be transported to the dump site.
Commenting on how that will be helpful to the recycling industry, Mr Maximilian says: "Currently, although there are approximately 700 sorters at the Pugu dump site, the amount sorted out there is very small, a situation partly attributed to poor and few types of equipment used."
Waste as an opportunity
Keeping the city clean aside, Mr Mchau also thinks that every waste is an opportunity to make money. "I use solid wastes to make charcoal and liquid wastes to make fertilizer," he says at his office in Ubungo.
Through charcoal, for instance, Mr Mchau sells a single piece charcoal at Sh700 to Sh3, 000.
He can sell up to 100 pieces a day.
Mr Lema's factory, located at Tabata-Makuburi, and employing five employees, produces 1.8 tonnes of HDPE-materials and two tonnes of LD-materials, which can be used to produce pipes and plastic bags.
"The market for my products is viable," he remarks. "But lack of capital remains a major challenge."
Additional reporting by Alfred Zacharia