Case Study- Making the Case for Environmentally Safe Disposal of Waste

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Sustainable Urban Economic Development Programme (SUED) Making the Case for Environmentally Safe Disposal of WasteA Case Study on Malindi Municipality Challenge In developing countries such as Kenya, the growth in its urban population is placing demand on already strained urban services. The apparent rise in the utilisation of both renewable and nonrenewable natural resources to meet this demand is increasing the risk of environmental degradation. The duality of urbanisation and population growth is anchored on these changes in demographic and population patterns, economic activities, housing arrangements and human behaviour. This gradual increase in the number of people in urban areas in Kenya is mostly taking place in municipalities that are now becoming regional hubs with large urban population growth with extensive rural linkages. As these municipalities expand, their capability to provide urban services has not increased to match the new demands. Further, due to their new formation, their leadership lack proper plans and operating capacity to respond appropriately. The newly instituted leadership in the municipalities need to conceptualise the environmental value of sustainable urbanisation to help them design their provision of urban services in a way that protects municipal environmental assets. Moreover, the municipal leadership needs to put in place plans that help guide them to efficiently utilise their resources in an environmental conscious manner to reduce the negative impact of environmental externalities that are associated with urbanisation. Key among the challenges that these new municipalities face in the provision of urban services is urban sanitation and waste. With solid waste as a byproduct of urbanisation, economic growth and population increase there needs to be a comprehensive waste management process and policy tailored to meet the needs of each municipality. This is because the mismanagement of waste has higher repercussions on the environment with the potential to generate greenhouse gas emissions and adversely impact public health. The underdevelopment of the waste management sector within the municipalities means that it remains a low-level priority when compared with investments in other development sectors such as social infrastructure. This lack of investment in infrastructure to support efficient sewage management has further been exacerbated by COVID-19 which has had counties in Kenya deprioritizing infrastructure to respond to the humanitarian crisis that the pandemic has posed. As such, there is a need to help the municipal and county leaders understand the economic rationale for a strong waste management system in the face of budget deficits. While there is the potential to work with government officials to help them see the merit of partnering with the private sector 1

to build effective sanitation and solid waste management infrastructure, private sector investors remain skeptical about the profitability of waste management and sanitation sectors. Kilifi County where Malindi Municipality is domiciled, in Kenya lacks a robust waste management process. The solid waste generation in its urban centres is estimated to reach approximately 33,000 tons per annum by 2035 an increase from 16,000 tons that was produced in 20191. Traditionally, most towns in Kenya rely on a sewer network to collect and transport waste to a safe disposal site but due to the cost of establishing a sewer network and the geographical layout of Malindi, the municipality has no sewer network. This has resulted in an informal solid waste management process that is driven by the residents, who put minimal effort or expertise into these efforts due to the perception that sanitation should be provided as a public good, and due to the substantial cost of establishing an individual waste management system. Residents therefore mostly dig holes where waste is disposed and allow the waste to seep into the water table. Residents with additional financial means have these holes manually emptied and dump the sludge in an open field that is metres away from the town centre and the beach. The open dumping of waste is not regulated resulting in hazardous conditions due to the dumping of the untreated waste. The introduction of a robust and responsive waste management plant is essential to the municipality’s future growth.

Intervention As a response to this, the UK Government through its Sustainable Urban Economic Development Programme (SUED) is working with 12 municipalities2 including Malindi, to help them better manage their urban centres to ensure that they can respond to their current and future economic and population growth effectively. The programme’s main aim is to work with the municipalities to develop Urban Economic Plans3 (UEPs) and attract investment for critical infrastructure and value chain projects such as urban sanitation and waste management. The UEPs outline how municipalities can prioritise economic activities and infrastructure that will help them support future development towards increasing their efficiency in urban service provision. In its UEP development process, SUED works closely with the municipalities to capture their aspirations on how they can revitalize their economic sectors and identify the strategies that need to be in place. In its support to Malindi Municipality, the programme is keen to better understand how its current infrastructure impacted its economic growth. To do so the programme employed a phased approach in its support in the following ways: a) Inception Phase: At the onset, the programme aims to share with the municipal and county leadership how SUED works together with them to identify the key opportunities and challenges affecting urban development and economic growth as defined by their local stakeholders. In Malindi, the programme was able to gain a deeper understanding of why the municipality was vulnerable to external shocks. This was because the municipality had historically been dependent on one economic sector, tourism, leaving a vacuum in the development of alternate competitive value chains. This step is critical as it provides 1

Source: County Government of Kilifi ISUDP (2015 draft)


Lake Region Economic Bloc- Kisii and Bungoma, North Rift Economic Bloc – Eldoret and Iten, Frontier Counties Development Council- Mandera and Isiolo, Mt. Kenya and Aberdares Region Economic Bloc- Kathwana and Kerugoya/Kutus, South Eastern Economic Bloc- Kitui and Wote, Jumuiya Ya Kaunti Za Pwani- Malindi and Lamu 3 Urban Economic Plans are advisory documents that complement the County Integrated Development Plans to help provide a focused economic strategy that highlights which priority value chain and critical infrastructure should be prioritised to advance local economic development. Read more about UEP here:


SUED with the opportunity to directly engage with stakeholders to see how guidance can be given to developing policies. In doing so, the programme can begin to advocate for the inclusion of urban sanitation and waste management within the planning process. b) Diagnostic Phase: The programme’s comprehensive and wide-ranging assessment of the municipal economy, demographics, infrastructure, environment against the national and international context helps formulate the municipal opportunities and deterrents for private sector investments. In its assessment of Malindi, SUED noted that the linear approach to waste service provision greatly limited the municipality’s capability to model its economy on a circular approach in its waste and sewage management system. This was due to the inadequate drainage and sewage system and the lack of a connected infrastructure that would enable the municipality to be able to better collect and dispose the waste. Further, there was low interest by the county and municipal leadership in putting in place substantiative sanitation and waste management infrastructure due to competing priorities. By understanding the infrastructure available within the municipality to support key sectors such as sanitation, SUED was better placed to design a responsive UEP. c) Technical Briefing Phase: Within this phase, SUED works closely with the county and municipal leadership to identify, assesses and prioritise key infrastructure. As the programme was developing the UEP for Malindi, the need for infrastructure intervention was apparent due to the potential negative impact that the current lack of sewer network posed to the environment. The utilisation of a linear approach in the municipal sewage management entails collection, transport, and disposal model where there was no commercialisation of the waste. Further, the dumping of sewage and sludge at the current existing solid waste dump posed a significant risk to the citizens' health. d) UEP Finalisation: Working with the county and municipal leadership, SUED finalised the development of the UEP by setting out in detail its economic opportunities, required actions to bring them to life as well as which infrastructure projects are critical for the municipality to create a conducive environment for investors. For Malindi, it was imperative that priority be given to the formal introduction of a waste management and recycling system. This was due to the huge potential it provided in the leveraging of commercial investment opportunities. By integrating within the UEP how Malindi could develop a multifunction sanitation and waste management plant that would link its operational aspects, SUED was able to demonstrate to Malindi how it could commercialise the process. While developing the UEP, SUED was able to demonstrate the interdependency between Malindi’s various economic sectors and the need for the prioritisation of a sanitation and waste management infrastructure intervention. The Municipality identified its vision – Developing a BlueGreen Economy Whilst Harnessing and Managing Malindi’s Abundant Natural Resources.” To help the municipality manage its natural resources, there is need for it to appropriately address its lack of a sewage network for its liquid waste that necessitates its residents including the hotel industry relying on septic tanks and pits that are operated by the private sector which at times are left to overflow. This hazardous treatment of waste is a deterrent in not only the tourism sector but also poses a challenge to future investors who want to put in place infrastructure within the municipality. As such, the current dumping of sludge in the municipal landfill site provides an opportunity for a partnership between the municipality and private sector to commercialise it. This can be done through the processing of black soldier flu larva (BSFL) to produce protein and compost or carbonising the waste and pressing it into charcoal briquettes. This process has the


potential to systematically reduce the amount of non-disposable waste, reducing its negative impact on the environment.

Result With a UEP in place that provides an implementable waste management infrastructure intervention and how to commercialise it, SUED was able to show Malindi how to pursue waste beneficiation. The plan details how the municipality can address service delivery in the sanitation and waste management sector and pivot the municipal’s work towards penetrating waste recovery markets. By prioritising investment into sustainable sanitation solutions, Malindi is now better placed to address its current inefficiencies in its sanitation services. Partnering with the county and municipal stakeholders, SUED is helping Malindi actualise its UEP by carrying out a prefeasibility study on the establishment of a waste to value (W2V) facility to enable sustainable sanitation solutions in the municipality. The study was critical in helping the municipality assess the market opportunity, financial viability, and the impact potential of the establishment of a W2V facility that processes faecal sludge into commercial outputs, enabling sustainable sanitation solutions. The study also aimed at helping the municipality determine how they could safely outlet the municipality’s faecal sludge in a way that was environmentally safe. This was because currently sewage sludge is being emptied manually by untrained personnel who are not equipped to safely empty the sewer tanks resulting in open dumping sites that degrade the municipality’s soil quality, water purity, air, and aesthetics. The environmental pollution may continue if not addressed by the municipal and county leadership. The prefeasibility study helped the programme’s work with the municipality to review the sanitation gaps and determine how the municipality could implement a holistic, sustainable, and inclusive faecal sludge management system. In doing so, SUED was able to help the municipality develop potential implementation steps that would actualise the project. First the municipality and the county leadership need to establish a W2V facility that will develop products like briquettes as an add on to the Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FTSP) that will help the municipality generate revenue. The proceeds from the facility could be utilised to sustain the facility operations but also fund further improvements in the sanitation value chain downstream, ensuring that Malindi moves towards a financially sustainable sanitation system. Further, it will help the municipality make its waste disposal environmentally safe by having in place a workable management system that reduces its pollution of land, water and air, reducing its capability to spread diseases and generate greenhouse gases. Second, interlink sanitation with waste management. For the municipality to appropriately tackle the environmental impact that the poor handling of sewage sludge poses, there is a need to holistically maintain hygienic conditions within the municipality. This means that garbage, industrial waste, and wastewater need to be appropriately treated and disposed of properly. Third, while previous population trends hampered the investment into robust sanitation and waste management system, future population growth is expected. As such the municipality needs to invest in an environmentally and cost-effective solution that will provide Malindi with a resilient urban infrastructure that will accommodate its future population growth. Fourth, the review of the sanitation market gaps showed that the municipality would need to develop further its policies and regulations to ensure that they are well understood by the populace and enforceable across the different actors within the sector. Fifth, to drive the financial sustainability of this intervention, Malindi and the larger coastal area need to move toward being more environmentally conscious, including promoting the circular economy from a linear one where there is utilisation of by-products from waste such as briquettes. This will 4

help offset the environmental impact that deforestation has from the utilisation of wood as fuel by the locals, particularly due to the variety of factories with large energy consumption established in the area. In sequencing these steps, Malindi will be able to incorporate within its steps from collection, to storage, to treatment and transformation environmental considerations and greatly reduce the negative impact of improper waste management on the municipality. This new priority of waste sorting to reduce waste by incorporating eco-considerations through the manufacturing of secondary raw materials, will greatly change the waste disposal norms within the municipality. The W2V provides a unique opportunity for the municipality to partner with the private sector (facility operators, exhauster trucks, tank emptiers etc.) to create a sustainable sanitation solution that will create a variety of income-generating opportunities across the W2V value chain. In addition, the improved sanitation value chain will limit the pollution of Malindi’s air and soil as well as water sources reducing the susceptibility of the residents to contracting poor-sanitation-related diseases such as cholera. The proposed amendments to the W2V project will help establish policies that govern waste disposal that will significantly improve the municipality’s aesthetics supporting its main economic activity - tourism. With sanitation forming a key pillar in its complementarity to Malindi’s tourism sector, implementing the W2V project provides an economic diversification aspect for the municipality. If implemented as envisioned, the W2V project can provide a low-cost scalable solution to Malindi’s waste management challenge. The translation of the UEP’s infrastructure interventions into an actionable project is helping Malindi prioritise the investment in sanitation and waste management. In doing so, the municipality is helping to illustrate that sanitation investments can include viable economic generation models while still having the targeted positive impact on the environment.


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