WINDHOEK - With increasing industrialisation and urbanisation taking place, the issue of waste management has become a critical national concern and was identified as a priority area in Namibia’s Fifth National Development Plan.
Clean cities promote physical and mental health for citizens. They also strive to attract tourists.
However, cleanliness is a prime matter of concern in many African cities- Windhoek included.
Windhoek recently lost its status of being the cleanest city in Africa, as it dropped its adopted innovative ways of utilising local communities for solid waste collection and removal.
A report on the implementation of the Environment Act of 2007 during the 2017/18 financial year tabled in the National Assembly calls for improved management of waste and hazardous substances. The report shows that current waste management practices in Namibia present significant human and environmental health risks and high volumes of litter are now evident across the country.
It further indicates the majority of local authorities are ill equipped to manage waste in an environmentally sound manner.
Section 4 (b) of the Environmental Act states that the minister of Environment and Tourism has the function to prepare and publish policies, strategies and standards for the protection of the environment, while Section 5 of the Act grants the minister certain powers regarding waste and its disposal.
These provisions motivated the decision to develop a National Solid Waste Management Strategy in early 2017 to transform the waste management sector and to reduce the widespread littering throughout Namibia.
The first step in the development on the strategy was the compilation of a baseline assessment of the current solid waste management systems, responsibilities and priorities across Namibia.
The report shows that the baseline assessment was based on consultations with 19 local authorities (including visits to disposal sites to observe current practices and problems), three waste management companies, regional councils, and with various relevant ministries and other stakeholders.
The assessment was done in towns and cities; namely; Windhoek, Swakopmund, Tsumeb, Karibib, Ondangwa and Mariental.
The report states baseline assessment played an important role in guiding the development and scope of the strategy which was launched February this year.
“The vision of the strategy is for Namibia to become the leading country in Africa in terms of standards of solid waste management by 2028. It lays out a clear step approach for Namibia to achieve the strategic objectives of the strategy,” the report indicates.
Some of the objectives include strengthening the institutional, organisational and legal framework for solid waste management, including capacity development. It also aims to plan and implement feasible options for hazardous waste management including healthcare waste management.
The implementation of the strategy is expected to lead to waste disposal sites, establishment of hazardous waste management facilities, roll out and scale up of recycling projects and environmentally conscious citizens and reduction in littering among other expectations.