Efforts on waste managment in Eritrea
|by Milka Teklom|
Africa is the continent most-exposed to the adverse effects of climate change despite contributing the least to global warming.
By the end of 2020, between 75 and 250 million people on the continent are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change. In the same year in some countries yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent. Global warming of 2?C would put over 50 percent of the continent’s population at risk of undernourishment.
Just like the other African countries, although Eritrea’s contribution to global pollution may be tiny little compared with the industrialized and newly industrializing countries, the government of Eritrea has been making efforts to clean the environment.
As part of the continued efforts, the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment’s Central region branch has recently held a conference to address the major polluting activities by focusing on the effect of solid waste on the environment and the disposal operation cycle of the Central region.
M r . M u l u b r h a n Gebrehannes, director of the Environment A s s e s s m e n t Division, said that solid waste is one of the major concerns of cities in the world. As cities expand, the concern with regard to solid waste and other environmental matters increases. In developing countries, especially in Africa, collected waste is mainly disposed in open landfills, many of which are neither properly operated nor maintained and pose serious threat to public health.
In Eritrea, the volume of the solid waste generated is increasing mainly due to the growing urban population, concentration of industries in urban areas, consumption patterns of residents and inadequate finances and facilities to manage waste collection and disposal. Mr. Mulubrhan emphasized that most of the East African cities are using 20-50 percent of their budget in solid waste management, but only 20-80 percent of the waste is collected. As a result, the uncollected or illegally dumped waste marks a disaster for human health and environmental degradation. The key aims of the conference were to improve the current solid waste management status in Central region by detecting the major problems of solid waste management starting from point of generation to the final dumping of the solid waste.
Mr. Mulubrhan added their office has been doing most of the waste management, including sweeping, collection, transportation and disposing the waste. He said the biggest concern was the dumping site because the existing dumping sites are not properly selected and they lack the basic characteristics of landfills; they are simply open dumps. For this reason, the dumping sites are characterized by bad smell particularly during the rainy season. Another common problem with the dumping sites is overfilling. The size of the dumping sites and the distance from the city cannot support their future expansion potential.
The dumping site has recently been renovated. The waste is now being dumped 600 meters north east away from the road. Roads, walls and fences have been built, and trees have been planted to make the place attractive and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide caused by the burning waste. As part of the efforts to manage the waste, a recycling machine has been set to produce synthetic materials such as electric conduits and buckets. The Central region has also successfully transformed some of the solid waste into fertilizers.
The conference ended by reminding the participants that there is so much that is left to be done on waste management and minimization, and stressing the importance of drafting solid waste management guidelines soon and raise the awareness of the mass.