With the collaboration of Dr Augustina Ephraim

In this first article let’s see integrated sustainable waste management systems. Human activities generate waste that is often discarded as it is considered unnecessary. This waste is normally solid and the word waste suggests that the material is useless and undesirable. However, many of these wastes can be reused and can therefore become a resource for industrial production or energy production if managed properly. Waste management has become one of the most important problems of our time, as the African way of life produces huge amounts of waste.


Several African cities are considered large open garbage cans. This situation becomes a public health problem. In fact, waste management is a problem that must be dealt with most seriously by the government. It is important if not urgent that laws and public initiatives be taken. Beyond waste management, governments must also take measures at the level of education and sensitization of the population (selective sorting)


Figure 1  shows how different the waste stream is in the reference cities, located as they are in high, middle and low income countries. The fact that they classify their waste differently makes the comparison a challenge. 


The immediate impression from looking at Figure 2.1 is that organic waste is a very large part of all cities’ waste streams. Perhaps the most neglected part of the modernization project, closing nutrient cycles by capturing organic waste, is a topic that has profound impacts upon both the city and upon global cycling of carbon and nitrogen.

Figure 1 A world of variation in classifying MSW composition in the reference cities



The objective of this article is to present a sustainable management of household waste and how we can valorize  them for a use as a source of energy. This article presents how waste is managed in Africa, and how it should be done. The article then presents the DYMOLA software and its application for waste management. Finally, the article ends with some recommendations that should be applied for the management and energy recovery of waste in Africa.




    1. Waste collection

 Usually driven by a commitment of authorities to protect and improve public health and reduce deaths and illnesses related to the presence of waste; 

Figure 2 Collection coverage for non-slum and slum households. Source: Global Urban Observatory (2009); Demographic and Health Surveys 

    1. Waste treatment and disposal

Driven by the need to decrease the adverse environmental impacts of solid waste management; 

Current environmental policy is generally founded on the principles of the ‘waste manage- ment hierarchy’. The hierarchy is represented in many different ways; however, the general principle is to move waste management ‘up the hierarchy’, towards reduce, reuse, recycle (the ‘3Rs’) nearer the ‘top’, diverting waste away from disposal, which is situated at the ‘bottom’. The version of the hierarchy in Figure 4.2 empha- sizes that a necessary first step is to get on the hierarchy in the first place by phasing out uncon- trolled disposal in the form of open dumping. 

Figure 3 Waste Management Hierarchy. Source: Wilson et al (2001)


Article written by Dr Jean-Marc Ndombo and Dr Augustina Ephraim

Read more:

The African digital revolution will have to go through waste management at the height of the challenge

Massive waste in african megacities calls for sustainable waste-to-energy facilities

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