EXAMINING THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN WASTE MANAGEMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND GOOD HEALTH MAINTENANCE
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- Background to the Study
Solid waste has become a major consequence of development and modernization, yet some of the greatest challenges to its management are felt mostly in the developing counties. This is part of the larger paradox of development – factors, which create the most intransigent problems currently facing the developing countries, are invariably those that derive from development itself.
Municipal solid waste management (MSWM) is one of the critical environmental challenges of rapid urban development facing the developing countries including Cameroon. Solid waste arising from human domestic, social and industrial activities is increasing in quantity and variety as a result of growing population, rising standards of living and development of technology (Dickerson, 1999: 13). The need to manage this increasing waste in an environmentally effective, economically affordable and socially acceptable manner is a problem faced by all nations of the world today. Waste management is not glamorous; yet without it, every city would cease to exist. Hence all cities, the world over, have developed some way of dealing with the problem (Zurbrugg, 2002).
Global efforts to maintain the quality of earth’s environment is linked to sustainable development and is now propounded by government as well as international organizations. For instance, a clean environment and effective waste management systems was one of the United Nation (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This recommendation, (on like in Agenda 21) MDGs indirectly advocates sustainable solid waste management within the frame work of the “seventh goal” which addresses environmental sustainability. The aim is to foster the integration of the principles of sustainable development (SD) into each country’s development policies and programs (UNDP, 2007).
Municipal solid waste (MSW) management has become a major issue of concern for many under-developed nations; especially as populations increase. The problem is compounded as many nations continue to urbanize rapidly; 30-50% of populations in many developing countries is urban (Thomas-Hope, 1998) and in many African countries the growth rate of urban areas exceeds 4% (Senkoro, 2003). Solid waste management in the developing countries demonstrates daunting problems partly due to the negligence in international circles, but more as a result of the inability the national and local responsible sectors to cope with the problem.
The failure has been linked to the acquisition and use of incorrect and ill-adapted technologies with heavy costs of maintenance, lack of expertise and inadequate funding and staff (Kironde et a, 1997). According to Johansson (1999) landfilling remains the most prominent technique with open dumps being the common practice. There are also many illegal dumps created in empty space, lakes and ponds, drains, street corners and riversides. Littering is a common phenomenon. These uncollected solid wastes deface the aesthetics of the town and bring about serious environmental and health hazards.
The current condition of municipal solid waste management service in different towns of Cameroon is also becoming a challenge for municipalities. Cameroon towns share the waste management experience of many developing countries. Buea like many towns in the country has many sanitary problems of which the bigger one is solid waste. It is very common to see piles of waste on the streets, besides individual houses, available open areas, and market areas.
Despite the threat this predicament poses to the environment, the problem remain inadequately addressed by the society (waste managers and stakeholders). Inadequate solid waste management in the town of Buea has resulted in the accumulation of waste on open lands, in drains and in the residential areas, causing a nuisance and foul-smelling pools, environmental pollution through leachate from piles (water and soil pollution) and burning of waste (air pollution), clogging of drains.
This situation is believed to result in poor environmental conditions, which in turn present a formidable threat to health. There is thus a need for improved waste management system of the town. Information on the characteristics, the composition, the volume and weight of waste generated and collected in the Buea municipality town is limited.
The purpose of this study is there to assess the effectiveness of waste management in the Buea municipality, thereby looking at the relationship that exist between waste management, environmental degradation and health maintenance, the methods involve in waste management in the Buea municipality and the problems associated with MSWM in the Buea municipality?
Statement of Problem
One of the most daunting challenges of urban centers in developing countries like Cameroon is proper waste management challenge. Currently in Buea, solid waste is increasing beyond the management capacity of the municipal authority (Misrak Workneh, 2016). However, UN estimate shows that only 65% of the waste generated in the town is collected, having the rest being disposed of in open sites, drainage channels, and rivers. This fact can be observed by strolling on the street of the Buea municipality, where residents might not find it strange to see overflowing garbage skips often rendered for their putrid smell. The best remedies, individuals can do in such a scenario is to cover their nose or hold their breaths and walk (Misrak Workneh, 2016)
Solid waste collection, transportation and disposal service is the most crucial solid waste management practices that is provide in urban settlement. However, solid waste management in the Buea municipality is poor. There is no sufficient waste treatment, reduction from its source, recycling of waste, collection, transportation and disposal in the town. In addition, there is no adequate public solid waste storage container and road side dustbin. As a result residences highly suffered from shortage of solid waste management facilities.
Shortage of man power, limitation of financial and material resources, poor regulation controlling rules, insignificant role for public awareness creation are the other constraints that make challenges of the municipality. Therefore, municipal solid waste management in the town is not carrying out in adequate and proper manner. The environmental and sanitary conditioning of the town become more serious from time to time and people are suffering from living in such conditions. Thus, solid waste management practices of the town needs urgent improvement.
Despite, government’s procedural mechanisms put in place to cope with the above problem, the matter of solid waste disposal seems far from being resolved due to the lack of technology, technical knowhow, financial capacity, institutional structure and understanding of the community required to properly manage solid wastes by the service providers (Tesema, 2010).
According to the investigator view no researches have been undertaken on solid waste management issue in the town. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to assess the current solid waste management practice which comprise the generate rate, physical composition, collection, transportation, disposal situation domestic solid waste and to assess the existing status and spatial coverage of municipal solid waste management service in the town.