Following the largely unimpressive performance of the public sector in the provision of solid waste services in many cities of African countries, the search for alternative strategies for addressing this challenge became inevitable. One of the strategies is the involvement of the private sector in solid waste management. As of today, the contribution by the private sector to solid waste service provision is now a common phenomenon in most cities in developing countries. However, SWM cannot be easily left to be handled by the private sector alone because it has strong external effects and markets may not achieve socially acceptable levels of equity. Therefore, public intervention is necessary for example in form of regulation of the private sector. Public intervention has sometimes involved governments allocating huge sums of money for beautification of cities especially when major events are hosted in those cities with upgrading of waste management services given a special consideration. Even without government involvement, a proportion of people who make a living from activities in the informal sector have played a big role in solid waste management in many cities in the developing world.
Despite the active involvement of many actors in SWM and the policies and initiatives introduced and implemented in recent decades in East Africa, many urban centres are still facing major problems. Even where successes have been registered, the question is whether that success can be sustained for a long time. This study addresses the situation of household waste collection in Kampala. It is one of the key factors in ensuring the health and safety of the population. This study is part of the Partnerships for Research on Viable Environmental Infrastructure in East Africa (PROVIDE), towards sustainable waste water and solid waste infrastructures in East African cities. It contributes to the PROVIDE project by addressing issues of governance and management of solid waste in Kampala. The study’s contribution is a deeper understanding of the various actors in solid waste collection and the performance of the interventions and policies so far implemented in the solid waste management sector in Kampala. Specifically, the study compares the operations and assesses the effectiveness of public and private provision of solid waste collection in Kampala; examines the effect of removal of communal containers popularly known as ‘skips’ in Kampala; examines how the informal sector co-exists with the formal sector in solid waste collection in Kampala and lastly examines the environmental legacies related to solid waste management from hosting the 2007 CHOGM event in Uganda.
Chapter two compares the operations and discusses the effectiveness of public and private sector provision of solid waste collection in Kampala, Uganda. Household data suggest that the private sector is more effective than the public sector. Private sector companies provide services like container provision and providing timely and fixed collection time tables. Contrary to popular perception, fees charged by private companies are moderate. Public sector clients are charged fees even when the service is supposed to be free. Clients of private sector providers are more satisfied than those of public sector providers. It is however, revealed that while public sector serve mainly the low incomes, the private sector serves mainly the rich. In spite of these notable differences, clients of both public and private sector perceive the problem of solid waste management (SWM) in Kampala to be very serious. The effectiveness of public and private sector operations in solid waste collection in Kampala is hampered by corruption and lack of transparency.
Chapter three examines the impact of the removal of communal containers (skips) in Kampala. From the analysis related to the choices made and the perceptions after most of the skips were removed, the major alternative to skips was the use of the commercial services, mainly private sector’s services. When asked to rate the skips system, the respondents in the surveys indicated a strong association of skips with lack of cleanliness. The lack of satisfaction with the skip system (and appreciation of the current system) was most notably recorded in high-income areas. On average the present system was much better evaluated. We found that the evaluation of skips is negatively affected by not only the income level of the neighbourhood but also the household income and education level. In addition, we found a weak positive effect of the current fees paid. The effects of income are strong enough to render the evaluation of the skips system equal, if not superior to the current system for the households with lower income and education and outside the rich areas. The removal of many of the skips not only induced the former skip-users to switch to commercial services, but also enabled many non-users of skips to avail of these services. The lowest benefits are derived from mere dumping and many households have chosen to abandon this practice in exchange for commercial solid waste collection services, typically much more expensive. Formerly many households paid people (informal workers) to take their waste to collection points, including the skips. These informal workers continued to do so, though some shifted to using commercial services especially (formal) private sector. The advent of the (formal) private sector thus led to a decrease of the demand for informal services. The evaluation by households of the waste disposal services before and after the removal of skips shows that richer households are clearly pleased with the removal, but that poorer households, particularly those with low levels of education do not feel better served than they were before.
Chapter four addresses the co-existence of formal and informal providers in solid waste collection in Kampala. Study findings show that the informal collectors distinguish themselves from the formal waste collectors by providing ‘first-line’ services only, taking garbage away from households, but not taking this all the way to the dumpsite. They avoid regulation more than large firms. As the opportunities for restricting themselves to this stage are typically enhanced by KCC that offers (free-access) container services, informal collectors can be seen as structurally linked to the formal public sector. And the informal providers provide a cheaper, but lower rated level of service, and more often (but certainly not exclusively) to poorer households. The fairly large market shares of informal collectors can be explained by their competitiveness vis-à-vis the formal private sector: their fees are substantially lower than private sector fees. The informal collectors can do so as they provide less packaging material, have little equipment, and do not carry waste far. In fact they exploit the lapse in enforcement of environmental regulation. Their continued role next to public service provision is explained by them filling a niche in taking garbage from the households to collection points, while earning incomes at par with alternative occupations.
Chapter five examines the environmental legacies of major events in cities of the developing world. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala is taken as a case study. Although CHOGM was not a mega-event (in terms of infrastructure construction, masses of people attending, and intense global media coverage), for Uganda and Kampala it was a major event with international visibility. Hence, significant efforts were made by the Uganda and Kampala authorities to invest in the city in the road towards CHOGM 2007. Solid waste management was one of the main areas that received additional resources and faced institutional changes. This resulted in considerable improvements in solid waste management practices during CHOGM, as could be expected. As solid waste management often differs throughout metropolitan cities in developing countries and major events are not equally spread over these cities one can expect that environmental legacies are unequally distributed over the city. Following CHOGM, we found that there are no longer significant different perceptions in solid waste management between Central and Kawempe divisions. Central division and Kawempe division are perceived as equally clean (or equally dirty), suggesting that solid waste management innovations are gradually spreading across divisions. In a more fine-tuned comparison between citizens living close to places where the CHOGM events took place and locations more peripheral to CHOGM, the distinction in solid waste management started to fade somewhat during CHOGM, but there are signs of a reemerging distinction, indicating the erosion of leveling effects. However, this does not dispute the fact that, one year after CHOGM, solid waste management was perceived to be still significantly better than before CHOGM.
Generally, this research has shown the dynamics involved in the public and private provisioning of solid waste services. The reform initiatives introduced have had an impact on the general organization of SWM. What clearly comes out of this study are the challenges faced in public and private provisioning of solid waste services. It is also clear that certain policies like privatization if not well thought out could end up being not helpful to some sections of the population especially the marginalized ones. Finally, in agreement with the modernized mixtures approach, we can derive the conclusion that SWM initiatives and reforms are likely to have a positive impact if all actors and stakeholders are involved. The mixture of actors and strategies are required for solid waste management to improve for instance an appropriate mix of public and private service (formal and informal).