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Waste to wealth Uganda

Living Earth Foundation’s ‘Waste to Wealth’ project is responding to the urgent need of improving the lives of the increasing number of improvised and vulnerable people residing in urban slum areas in sub-Saharan Africa. The project is being implemented by the Living Earth Foundation and its local partners in Kampala (Uganda), Douala (Cameroon) and Port Harcourt (Nigeria). In Uganda, the project has built upon the foundations of the 2009 Enhancing Plastic Waste Collection in the Kampala District Project.

Project Aim
The project is creating a virtuous circle wherein slum dwellers take responsibility for collecting and managing household solid waste. Instead of shipping this waste off to landfill, social ventures and micro-enterprises oversee a process of sorting of waste, recycling and re-use. The project is ensuring environmental sanitation improvements are being sustained, with subsequent benefits in the health and well being of  slum inhabitants. The project is fostering the emergence of a skilled and effective business sector wherein social enterprises, founded by and in poor urban communities are currently deriving wealth from the provision of environmental services and derivative recycling and re-use activities. The waste is therefore becoming the catalyst for their income generation and employment opportunities.

Project Background
In 2008, Living Earth Uganda carried out a baseline survey to record and assess current practices with regards to waste plastic management, and identify key areas for development. The baseline survey was completed in December 2008 and its conclusions outlined a poor level of waste management activities being facilitated in Kampala. Local communities and local leaders in turn outlined their eagerness to learn and overcome challenges posed through the lack of  structured waste management system.

LEU implemented a number of community-based plastic collection businesses to tackle the poor levels of awareness regarding the social and environmental dangers of plastic dumping and the lack of recycling facilities and additionally created partnerships between the local communities and plastic recycling industries.
Widespread interest in the project as well as increasing levels of the urban slum population, encouraged the creation of further schemes to tackle poor solid waste management and address widespread poverty.
Expected Results

  1. Sustained environmental sanitation improvementwith subsequent benefits in health and well-being for the inhabitants of urban slums, through improved service provision as a result of partnerships involving local governments, the private sector and civil society
  2. The emergence of a skilled and effective business sector wherein social enterprises, founded by and in poor urban communities, derive wealth from the provision of  recycling and re-use services
  3. The role of women in the sector will be promoted
  4. Improved awareness among all stakeholders, including policy-makers, of the rights and entitlement of poor urban dwellers to a clean environment and of the potential to harness local cost-effective resources to deliver these rights
  5. Enhanced capacity among local authorities to engage in public-private partnership (PPP) development, particularly involving the less formal private sector. Strengthening managerial, technical and organisational abilities of municipalities and addressing statutory limitations will play a key part in achieving this result
  6. Improved South-South linkages and networking between partners and associates to increase learning, information dissemination, consensus building and advocacy skills with which to influence policy makers
  7. Scaling up of the approach and methodology to other urban centres within the three target countries.

In a recently commissioned Mid-Term Review of the project, completed in June 2013, a number of areas were identified where the programme has excelled. These include 7 public-Private partnerships achieved in Uganda between SMEs and local councils; within Uganda and Cameroon, existing and emerging SME businesses dealing with environmental sanitation and waste management have been supported to improve their effectiveness, to increase their incomes and business effectiveness; some of whom have seen increased profits of between 20-30%, demonstrating the value in waste and recycling, which has improved waste disposal practice and encouraged recycling to be carried out at household levels in all three countries. Improving the urban communities environmental sanitation in all three countries through clean-up activities and household waste recycling, has had a positive impact on the health of these communities.

In Cameroon and Uganda the Waste to Wealth progress has harnessed the energy of existing SMEs to rethink their business plans and approaches, enabling them to make significant business and market developments and improve their profits by between 15-30% and support SMEs to develop the supply chains for recycling. Much of this success can be attributed to the accredited training programme in  business development; The African Urban Enterprise Development programme. The programme was developed by Living Earth and the Open College Network London and through a series of structured workshops, has been developing the capacity of SMEs.

In Uganda, there has been success in engaging and mobilising the key stakeholders, broadening the scope of potential participation, strengthening the capacity to engage at this level and facilitate a ore structured approach to public-private partnerships between local councils and SMEs. Three SMEs supported by the Waste to Wealth programme have signed Memorandum of Understandings with Nansana TC in Kampala for the collection and disposal of waste.

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