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Waste management challenges in Freetown’s informal settlements

Future Health Systems

Waste management has been a challenge in the Freetown municipality of Sierra Leone for a long time, underpinned by the limited capacity of institutions responsible for waste collection and depositing. These challenges come with a huge cost to human health. The situation is even worse for people living in informal settlements within and on the fringes on the city. The lack of a well-planned and regulated waste management system in the informal settlements is a key driver of indiscriminate waste dumping. Waste dumping by communities, mostly in waterways, drainages and under footbridges, are invariably linked to health challenges for informal communities and built-up settlements located alongside those communities.

This issue brief therefore provides an insight into the current state of waste management challenges in informal settlements. It provide the following priority actions:

  • Establish, or empower community led actions for managing wastes through community by-laws and restrictions against unlawful disposal of waste
  • Undertake government-led training of community members on innovative use of waste through recycling and composting as means of employment and reduction of waste piles
  • Increase awareness in communities about the current state of waste disposal and effects on health problems like malaria which relates to frequent mosquito breeding
  • Enhance collaboration between communities and waste management companies to ensure that waste generated within communities are collected promptly for depositing at dumpsites; this could include discussions around pricing and schedules for collection
  • Promotion of community planning to ensure sustainable land use for purposes like proper waste management.