The Reality of Solid Waste Management in Tanzania

Rapid population growth and urbanisation puts pressure on urban services and waste management. Notably, with any population, waste generation surges as fast as human consumption. The 2004 Environmental Management Act in Tanzania was ineffective in combating environmental challenges triggered by rapid urbanisation and failed to put into place solid waste management practices that promoted sanitary landfilling and waste recovery. Land, air and water pollution are a major problem in urbanised areas. This was caused by improper treatment and disposal of solid and liquid waste, which proved highly detrimental to the existing ecosystems and human health.

Tanzania was also faced with poor segregation of market actors, which made it almost impossible to coordinate and implement a proper solid waste management system. Many private sector players lacked access to adequate recycling knowledge and waste processing technology. This limited their income-generating options, as they often worked in an unsupported and non-systematic manner, collecting and recycling only mainstream plastic types, like polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Other recyclables such as fibre plastics, glass, paper and organic waste remained unexploited at the collection points or at the dump sites, indicating untapped potential. Additionally, not many investors were willing to enter the market as the supply of materials was inconsistent.

Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), the key waste collectors often responsible for managing waste collection in their mandated neighbourhoods, mainly gathered waste as a part-time occupation; simply put, they didn’t know or understand the economic potential of the waste they collected.

The municipalities were simply not efficient in their waste handling efforts and did not provide reliable collection services to residents. This was due to both weak policies and the high operational costs incurred as a result of the limited waste recovery activities. Since waste was not being sorted at household level and collection was not regular or streamlined, there were several waste piles across town, which posed as a health risks and resulted in many residents falling ill from malaria and cholera.

Taka ni Mali was implemented by Swisscontact in Morogoro and Mwanza Municipalities, Tanzania and was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Puma Energy Foundation and the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

The Taka ni Mali concept was born during a Swisscontact environmental mission carried out in Tanzania in June 2012. The mission demonstrated that there was great potential to replicate the successes of Swisscontact’s ecological projects dedicated to tackling solid waste management in Latin America and Asia.

The project was first implemented in Morogoro Municipality, a major township located approximately 195km to the west of Dar es Salaam and with around 250,902 inhabitants. It received funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Puma Energy Foundation for implementation between 2013 and 2016.

The primary focus of the project was to progress economic opportunities in waste collection and the recycling sector by:

  • Increasing the number of recyclables recovered at household level, thereby generating additional income for the CBOs operating in waste collection.
  • Introducing waste separation at household level to avoid mixing wet household waste with dry recyclables, as this depreciates their value.
  • Creating a greater supply of recyclable materials, thereby increasing “green” jobs.

The secondary focus of the project was to improve urban hygiene and the environmental situation of the residents by:

  • Reducing the amount of mixed waste discarded into public areas, as these caused clogged drains, localised flooding and other forms of environmental pollution.
  • Reducing the amount of mixed waste disposed in landfills and dumpsites, as the decaying waste causes ground and water pollution.

Thanks to the impact made in the first project phase, an extension of a two-year phase was implemented in both Mwanza and Morogoro, from 2017 to 2018. 

The Results

The environmental pollution and degradation have thus been reduced by 88 763.8 tons of CO2 emissions. Carbon Dioxide (C02) emissions were reduced by the collection of 46 718 tons of organic waste.

Overall Impact and Results

Benefits of the Project

  • Facilitating access to financial services through the formation of savings and lending groups (Mavuno) and linkages to Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCOs).
  • Improving the economic performance of CBOs and recycling industries and their respective employees.
  • Increasing sorting and the volumes of inorganic and organic material collected within functioning municipal-supported solid waste management systems.
The Approach
In the first project phase, Swisscontact played a supportive role in the implementation of a Solid Waste Management system, ensuring that project activities were well coordinated and carried out.
Social and Gender Inclusion
To a large extent, women are responsible for household waste management and keeping the home and its immediate environment clean.
Community Involvement
The Taka ni Mali Project was implemented with the involvement of all major stakeholders of the market. This proved effective as the information dissemination was two-way rather than top down. And it encouraged better relationships between the market actors and helped build the spirit of community ownership, which is vital for project sustainability.

Sustainability and the Future

Since the project applied an inclusive approach engaging all stakeholders and managing expectations, the community slowly embraced proper solid waste management systems and applied them independently. The numerous capacity-building exercises built cohesion among the stakeholders, who recognised the importance of strengthening their symbiotic relationships in order to maximise and manage solid waste in a proper and profitable way. Because stakeholders identified the gaps in the waste management system and were adequately trained with the skills they needed, Swisscontact believes that the project will be tenable in the future. Towards the closure of the project, three dummy cheques each valued at CHF8,690 have been handed over to the Mwanza City Council (Ilemela and Nyamagana Municipalities) and Morogoro Municipality, symbolising the support for equipment to strategically sustain proper solid waste management systems after Swisscontact’s engagement.

The Taka ni Mali project contributed to adequate employment opportunities in solid waste collection and recycling, while reducing environmental degradation and health risks through efficient and sustainable solid waste management systems.

Video Testimonials
Taka ni Mali Interview with Anne Champion, Chairlady, Ukwere Group CBO, Morogoro

Taka ni Mali Interview with Brighton Kinyainye, Recycler

Taka ni Mali Interview with Emmanuel Lucas Malongo, waste aggregator and an entrepreneur, Mwanza

Green cities
Innovation from recyclables
How Kibwana Mkassi founded his own company in Tanzania after embracing the Taka ni Mali concept.
Green cities
"I opted to start my own business"
How the Taka ni Mali project helped improve Emmanuel and his family’s livelihood
Green cities
"Waste collection is my bread and butter"
Meet Fatuma Mohammed, a retiree eager to keep the environment clean - Taka ni Mali, Tanzania
Green cities
A Beneficial Cultural Shift
Dauson Jeremiah shares his view on his community’s transformation due to the "Taka ni Mali" project in Tanzania.
Green cities
Waste Collectors Access Finance
A story from the Taka ni Mali project, Tanzania
Green cities
“To them it is waste, but to us, it is a business and livelihood”
Developing Economic Opportunities in Waste Collection – Taka ni Mali in Tanzania