More than 15 million tons of waste are generated annually in Egypt and this figure grows by 3.4% every year. Insufficient resources and capacities for waste management lead to unsustainable practices, such as dumping or burning of waste. This causes severe environmental damage and creates health problems for the population.
The National Solid Waste Management Strategy of the year 2000 recognises the need to find comprehensive solutions for solid waste management problems in Egypt and emphasizes the role of local government and the private sector in providing improved waste services.
Approaches to integrated waste management focus today increasingly on the recovery of valuable materials from waste. Egypt has a long-standing tradition in informal collection, separation and recycling and this constitutes a great starting point for implementing integrated waste management strategies in the country.
The Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas (PDP) supports the cities of Khanka and Khosoos in Qalyubeya Governorate to improve the solid waste situation in their areas. These activities are co-financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The overall objective of PDP’s work in the field of Solid Waste Management is to establish an integrated and community-based SWM System in two informal urban areas of the cities Khosoos and Khanka in Qalyubeya Governorate. The programme seeks to take into consideration the needs of informal waste collectors and recyclers that are currently operating in the sector.
Main objectives of the programme are:
- developing a strategy for an inclusive and integrated waste management system
- promoting source segregation and raising awareness of the public on the importance of waste as a resource
- building capacities of the key actors engaged in the various processes related to solid waste management
- improving living and working conditions of informal waste operators
- establishing an Integrated Resource Recovery Centre (IRRC) to promote recycling of both organic and non-organic waste
The SWM component cooperates with ministries and inter-ministerial institutions such as the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) on the national level, while the Governorate of Qalyubeya represents the key partner for programme implementation on the regional level. On the local level, trust building and the establishment of working relationships between local government, waste operators and local communities constitute the core of the waste management project.
The “3Rs Approach” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) constitutes the guiding principle of PDP’s work in the area of waste management, stressing the value of waste as a resource rather than focusing exclusively on waste collection and waste disposal. This value chain approach to waste management that puts an emphasis on composting and recycling contributes to the preservation of scarce resources and help to reduce greenhouse gases.
Focus group discussions with local waste operators have been conducted in order to define the role of the informal sector into the new waste management strategy, considering their needs and expectations. The local waste management strategy was then developed in consultation with local stakeholders in the two informal areas and the document has been approved by the Governorate of Qalyubeya. In addition, an Integrated Resource Recovery Centre (IRRC) is under construction to nextend the quantities of recyclable materials.
In the framework of a recently concluded Integrated Public Private Partnership (iPPP) agreement with Ecocem, a subsidiary of the worldwide biggest cement company Lafarge, a close partnership between Ecocem and PDP has been established and a new processing line to produce Refuse Derived Fuel from waste will be created within the existing IRRC plant in Khanka.
In the long run, the Qalyubeya experience with integrated waste management will undoubtedly function as a model for other informal areas. When the waste management project of PDP comes to an end in (August 2014), it will have demonstrated how parts of the National Solid Waste Management Strategy can be successfully translated into practice on local level.