Solid Waste Management Problems In Cameroon


23 Mar 2015 16 May 2017

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Solid waste management which can be seen as the systematic control of generation, collection, storage, transport, source of separation processing, treatment ,recovery, and disposal of solid waste Globalization has raised some troubling concerns for the developing world, including Cameroon. One of such concern is its impact on urbanization and the ramification that goes with it. Cities are traditionally engines of social of social modernization and economic growth and at the same time the theatres in which globalization stage it actions. For Cameroon this has just help to increase the already unban problems and challenges that go with it. With municipal solid waste management is the main challenge. The constant increased in flows of goods and services, and change in life style and also ways of consumption had affected the waste sector directly or indirectly. Municipal solid waste management constitutes one of the most crucial health and environmental health problems facing the Limbe urban city council. This is so because even though these city is using 30percent of their budget in solid waste management, only 20-50 percent of the waste is been collected. Illegal dumped still constitute 50 percent of health and environmental degradation. This paper will attempt s to examine increase in urbanization have impacted on the management of municipal solid waste sector in Cameroon using the case of Limbe. In conclusion, this paper will suggest some solutions to the current waste management problems in Cameroon cities.

Location of Study Area

Limbe is a town in Fako Division of the South West region of Cameroon is located in an active an active and dynamic coastal zone. Limbe is located along the rocky coast of Cameroon and covers a surface area of about 674 km² (Limbe Town Planning Office, 2000).

Source Limbe Urban Council (2005)

Definition of Key Term

Solid Waste

By definition, solid waste includes but is not limited to trash, yard waste, used motor oil, household chemicals, building materials, and demolition materials. Solid waste does not include rock, dirt or brick.

What are the Factors influencing municipal solid waste Generation in Cameroon?

In order to prepare a good planned on municipal solid waste management system, it is important to know the quantity of waste generated by the community and also the different types of waste. Solid waste generation differs from place to place and country to country. Solid waste production and composition are influenced by the consumption pattern, climate, season, cultural practice, etc.

Population size is an important course or influence of municipal solid waste generation, even though other factors also influence it. There is a positive reciprocal relationship between city population size and both the percentage of waste collection from households. The constant increase in population and the city size as a hole poses a hell of problems solid waste management in Cameroon. In Limbe, A current figure shows that the present population of Limbe is estimated at 84,223 according to the 2005 population census. Increase in solid waste from 100 to 150 tons per day. The city area has also increase to about 6000 hectares, with about 4000 hectares of residential and commercial areas. The collection rates have increase dramatically from like 10 percent in the early 1990s to the present 30-60 percent execution by Cameroon hygiene and Sanitation Company popularly known as (HYSACAM) which is a French acronym for "Hygiene et slubrite'du Cameroon", the municipal solid waste management company in Limbe. The management of solid waste is in the hands of the Limbe city council and some private N.G.O.'s operating in around the city.

In Cameroon, the waste stream is mostly made up of garbage. Garbage which constitutes 60-70 percent of all the various types of waste includes, waste from sales of produce and meals, house hold preparation like cooking and serving of food; market refuse and handling. We also have what is known as non-biodegradable rubbish which constitutes paper, carton, plastics, rubber, glass, tin cans, etc. More so, other sources include: ashes, abandon vehicles, street sweeping, non-hazardous industrial waste, etc. Public and private sectors and sewage treatment centers also generate waste. Imported goods, like second hand vehicles, electronics and house hold equipment's from Europe, Asia and America .This goods with little or no life span, will spend with their Cameroon owners before been consider as waste. All these is been influence due to changing in consumption habits by some Cameroonians.

Solid waste Composition

In terms of composition, solid waste differs from town to town depending on the economic level of the cities or towns. It also depends on other factors such as the geographical location of the cities, energy resources, climate, cultural habits and standard of living of the population. Most of the big cities in Cameroon have high percentage of organic matter in their waste stream with high moisture content making them unsuitable for incineration. Over the years, many plastics, glass, paper, metal, textile and leather had find their way into the municipal waste stream due to the rapid economic expansions taking place in the cities.

Transportation and collection methods of solid waste management

More than three quarter of the waste management budget of the Limbe city council is been spent on transportation of solid waste alone, due to lack of technological knowhow only a smaller percentage is been spent on waste treatment or recycling. In Limbe, three main collection systems could identify: the primary collection at the household level by individuals, secondly collection method by the urban council which is the official method and finally by private contractors. Since the early days, they had been different traditional methods of waste disposal and agents in Cameroon as a hole. For example the burning of trash and rubbish from homes and work places. All of these methods have been reduce, since the Limbe council re-contracted the management of solid waste in the hands of HYSACAM which is a private company so many things have change. This solid waste management company known as HYSACAM had been operating in Cameroon for a very long time in various urban cities. They position portable public skips of various sizes (1m³, 3m³, 6m³, 9m³and 16m³) on the strategic positions of the city and empty them on planned daily schedule.150 bins of 3m³to 16m³category exist today (Monkam et al.2000).These skips are of various seizes depending on the generation capacity and also the level of accessibility of the area. Dumper trucks of various classes had been imported by HYSACAM for the collection and removing of dumping waste of the city of Limbe. Sweeping of some of the main streets is done manually by some of their employers and also by one mechanical van present for this use. Many problems do exits, because these equipment do break down time and again due to poor management and inexperience drivers, they had record so many accidents .The equipment are also so expensive to maintain and run. All this had made the population to have mix feelings about their operation. However HYSACAM had succeeded in removing about 30-60 percent of the waste today, which is a great improvement.

Some waste management equipment's in Limbe

Source:Photos by

Problems encounter by the municipal authorities

Limbe is a growing third world city with the constant challenge by urbanization and industrilization trends,population increase and consequent rise of waste.The city of Limbe and its authorities face major problems relating to public health and enviromental pollution.Lack of political will,poor government policy,lack of approprate economic and human resources,and weak local institutions result in poor waste management.Although the Limbe municipality had increasingly involved in solid waste management,lack of institutional and infrastructure facilities,and alsolack of resources are hindering the efforts.

In addition,one of the main problem is the use of traditional approach by the municipal authorities,they monopolise solid waste management projects,using command-and-rule startegies,ignoring other stakeholders and ill-adapted imported tecnology is common in Cameroon cities.This traditional or cultural approach does not really help much the situation of solid waste management in Limbe as a hol.The neglect of these other practitionals in this sector had worsen the scenario.This can be seen in most parts of the city,streets are almost blocked by solid waste and also market places are been littered around with solid waste from remains of some agricultural produce. More so,only some privilage people benefit from home collection of the solid waste ,this is due to the fact most of the streets are inassible.As in many other cities this people are been left with little or no chioce but to dump their solid waste in open spaces,water bodies,buried,drainage channels, burnt, deposite along roadsides and streets.Deposition of this solid waste into drainage,will course the drainage to blocked and mit result to flooding in the city.Like the case of 2002 when flooding and lanslide occure in variouse slums and gettos in the city of Limbe.The is also the prevelence of some diseases and parasites like malaria,cholera,diarrheaand hookworm been coused by inproper waste disposal.

Photos of enviromental problems of inproper waste deposition in limbe.


Source:fako news

Environmental and health of solid waste management

" Health provides an important tracer to indicate the quality of the population-environment relationship"(Ness 2001).

Enviromental effects:In the enviroment,chemicals and other containments found in solid waste can sleep into our ground water and can alsobe carried by rain water into our rivers and lakes that which provide essential wildlife habitat.these contaminates can also end up in our ground water,rivers and lakes that are sources for drinking water.The major enviromental effects include waste pollution from- pollution from disposal site.It also include air pollution, which includes smoke,odour,dust,noise,etc.

Waste Disposal

Final disposal in most economically cities in Cameroon is usually a matter of transporting the collected waste to the nearest open space and discharging them. Other forms of disposal like animal feeding, ploughing into soil, open burning and dumping in water bodies or wetlands contribute to environmental hazards ad human health problems.Institutional and financial constraints are one of the main reason for inadequate waste disposal.

The lacking of good solid waste disposal system in some areas in Cameroon and Afica as a hole,had contributes to the spread of infectiouse diseases.The method of solid waste removal also varies,with the a high level of segregation .The poorest neighborhoods facing the bigest problems with inadequate solid waste removal system, due to lack of roads.Some of this poor housholds or nighborhood rely on the pivate sector,those who can not provide deposite their waste in pits outside their homes,in rivers,by the road side and by burning.All this will give rise to solid waste health problems and prevalance of diarhoea,because some of them do drink from the rivers that they emty their waste into. In proper waste disposal can also led to poor drainage and blocked gutters.This block gutters,streams and drainage channels contributes to flooding usaually during the rainy season.

Air pollution

A number of factors does account for air pollution in urban cities,usaually the traditional system of waste burning ,emissions from cars,trucks,busses and not living out industrial emissions present in these urban cities.Air pollution is responsible for so many health problems in Cameroon as a hole,like premature deaths ,food contamination in polluted regions.Air pollution also disttroy the hozone layer and affect forest growth.

Health effects: This includes: mosquitoes breed in standing water in block drains, cans and standing pool of rain water;the presence of rat's;rat's spreads diseases like salmonella,typlius, leptospirosis and they also spiol millions of tons of foodand house hold materials; flies also carry germs on bodies and legs nad also excrete them.

Population effect on solid waste Management

Population growth has always affected waste generation in Cameroon,collection and invariable disposal due to population drowth and high standars of living amoung some of the inhabitants of Limbe. The is rapid population growth taking place in Limbe and this has a negative impact on both the environment and waste generation in the city.

With many other urban cities in Africa, cities in Cameroon (like Limbe) are faced with the double problems of population increase and rapid expansion.These phenomena above have brouth increasing strain on urban infrastructural development.Waste management has been one of the areas this strian has occure,where the existing system can no longer cope with the mountain of waste generated and heaped on the surface and open fields.Finally population size and growth,goes along with increased pollution and environmental decay.

Slums and ghettos

Due to poorverty,many cities had given birth to slums and getto's in many third world countries . This had led to the rise in enviromental health nad social problems.Cameroonians due live in slum nieghborhoods in city,because they can not afford the high cost to rent a room or flat in this big ciities.Left will no alltanative but to turn to this slum and swampy areas to construt their little shanties houses,with no building permit from the city council or land tenure.With the government authorities allways coming around to distroy them,because they are some time located in hazardouse areas,like slopes,flood prone areas and industraial zones.Slum dwellers allways record high level of poor health problems due to poor infrastructure and dirthy enviroment.Poor solid waste management is also common iin slum areas,this led to the prevalence of diseases, malaria and infant mortality rates.

Methods of Disposal

Open Dumping

Open dump as a solid waste disposal method, open dump is an uncontrolled sytem and has not been subject of engineering design.This type of solid waste disposal method had been adoubted in Limbe,commonly refers to as "landfill".

In most of the urban and rural areas of Cameroon,open domping is the most preffered way for final solid waste disposal.Although,the fovernment of Cameroon and municipalities had develop sanitory landfill sites in a few urban and rural areas,open dumping still remains the cheapest and most effective solution to get rid of solid waste .The distance of such sanitry landfill is often too distantly located for the population to used,as compare to the open dumlocation around the municipality. The sites are to far from the main source of waste generation,there by increases transfer costs and additional inverstments for the construction of roads and transportation.These open dumpsites in due time will become haven for flies, insects,animals and man alike.

Composition and Recycling of solid waste

Although composting is also a preferred method of solid waste disposal,due to the high level of organic material found in the waste composition.This method is not very popular in Cameroon,though there are some small-scale composting plants in the country,which has shown very limited success. Composting plants are not recording succes in Cameroon because of the high maintance and operating costs and lack of effective marketing.

Many municipalities in Cameroon are using educational campaigns and highring workers to conduct door to door collection of recyclables waste materials.In city like Limbe,organic wastes are coposted at home backyards and waste such as plastics are doump near the beach or buried.Burning of combustible waste is also widely practise amoung the inhabitants of Limbe city.

Recycling is widely practiced by the informal sector "waste pickers" or by the solid waste management staff themselves for extra income. Collection of recyclable waste is done in several steps such as households (door to door collection), transfer stations and even in the disposal sites. Such work is done in a very labor-intensive and unsafe way, and for very low incomes. Recovered and recyclable products then enter a chain of dealers, or processing before they are finally sold to manufacturing enterprises. The main items that are recycled include soft and hard plastics, glass, steel, paper, cardboard, aluminium and alloys etc.(C. Visvanathan and Ulrich Glawe 2006).

Legal,Social and Finacial Issues of Solid Waste Management in Cameroon

Cameroon is facing legal,financial and social problems in terms of solid waste management. Considering the enviromental issues in the country's development,municipalities and the government of Cameroon are hard to extend and formulate enviromental legislation.

Public awareness and public participation is a major step in effective implementation of the solid waste management system. Therefore, co-operation from the citizens is a vital aspect in managing solid wastes of a city. Habits and attitudes of inhabitants of a city largely affect waste management system. Hence, social aspect can not be separated from the overall waste management system. Therefore, environmental education from schools to develop the awareness of the general public becomes important.

Participatory urban enviromental planning and magagement approach

Paticipatory approch will focuses on the activities in solving waste management issues in Limbe and Cameroon as a hole.The paticipatory programme will empahasises on the need for local enviromental methodologies and planning among all urban enviroment and development stakeholders.The aim of this programme is to attain urban environmental improvements through recyling and waste collection.The program will also seeks to some enviromental and health concern.The economically empower a group of youths and adults in Limbe to sustain their enviromental livelihoods through waste collection and recycling.The management of municipal solid waste continues to evolve from the traditional confines system of generation to disposal,through waste collection and transportation,to intergrated waste management system.The morden solid waste management system encompases source reduction,recovery, and recycling of waste materials.At the momment the management capabilities of the urban councils are weak,due to lack of natural and economic resources.Attempts to deal with this urban enviromental issues had been a major problem and making it difficult for them to succed.

The management of solid waste management in Limbe city can be discribed as been inadequate and inefficent as evidenced can be seen by the indiscriminating dumping of waste on road sides,public places fileds and streams.This is evident in the slums and suburbs where heaps of rubbish can be seen almost everywere,coursing the place to be liteared with flies and the spread of so many diseases causing a lot of discomfort to the population.This problem will need both financial human resources put together with full plans to ensure the delivery of an effective solid waste management system.Workshops will be held with variouse stakeholders and participants from the city to identify pertinent enviromental solid waste management problem needing redress in the city.The objectives of these workshops will also include identification of mitigatory maesures to ameliorate the identified enviromental problems.

Role of Stakeholders

In other of the government of Cameroon to achieve sustainability in solid waste management,it is important to look at the roles of the variouse stake holders involve in power structures prevalent in solid waste management. Experience in several different African countries has shown that cooperation and coordination between the different stakeholder groups like city council, provincial government, service users, NGOS, CBOS,the private sector (formal and informal), and donor agencies, will ultimately lead to increase sustainability of the waste management system, such as changes in behavior and sharing of financial responsibilities. On the other hand, ignoring certain activities or groups will result in decreased sustainability of the system, for example in the form of negative public health effects or increased unemployment (Nyachhyon, 2004).

Non-Governmental Organisatios(NGOs)

Many NGOs in Cameroon operate between the private and government realms.These NGOs are strongly motivated by humanitarian and developmental concerns.These NGOs at times help to increase the capacity of paople and community groups to have an active role in local solid waste mangement.They help to create people's awareness of solid waste management problems affecting their local community;they also act as the voice of the Community Based Organisation's in municipal planning and implimentation processes;they also provide channels of communication between Community Based Oraganisation and the government authorities and finally the transfer of technical know-how of locally active Community Based Organisation's.

Whilst privatization basically involves the transfer of management responsibility and ownership from the public to the private sector and has proved to be a powerful means of improving the efficiency of some waste management services such as collection, haulage and disposal. Operating in various forms of partnership with the public sector, they may provide capital, management and organizational capacity, labor and technical skills (UN, 2000).

Private Sector Paticipation

Private sectors in Cameroon,just like the NGO's play very important role in municipal solid waste management of the country.Specially in the city of Limbe,were HYSACAM which is a private sector is participating more in street sweeping,door to door collection and waste transfer.The involvement of the private sector had help the collection of garbage to be more efficient and addition it has also help to reduce both the financial and human resources of the Limbe Municipal Council.Private sectors are more effective,than the government in all aspect of solid waste management in Cameroon.

Community Based Organisations(CBOs)

Finally community based organization is an essential element in ensuring the effectiveness of the solid waste management project in Cameroonand increasing the likelihood of its sustainability.In most African countries,like in Cameroon women do play important role in many community based organisations.They also have a common initiative group known as women empowerment .Women are mostly responsible for house-keeping and its enviroment clean.Women have shown active participation in various measurs of solid waste management. .(C. Visvanathan and Ulrich Glawe 2006).


The government of Cameroon should support NGO's and private sector in required areas,most espacially in the area of organising maintenace workshops and enlightened programme,which should include grassroots participatory and input.The government of Cameroon and the Limbe urban council should fund the variouse agencies responsible for collection and disposal of all types of wastes effective. Expanding land fills managemnet and control;waste to energy programs can be generated through the land fills.

In terms of population increase,there should also be a room for international co-operation towards achieving the action plans.There is also an urgetnt need for action plans and education in order to monitor and control waste expected in Limbe.There is also a need for purchase of recent equipments used for solid waste management;there is and urgent of new equipments like tipper,trucks,vehicles,pay loaders,road sweeper,bulldozer and well train staff.All these most be backed up with well trained stocked maintenance and spare parts for all the equipment.

There should be separate solid waste management system for hospitals,health care establishments and industries to prevent the infectious and hazardous waste from entering the municipal waste stream. Limbe urban council shoul organise refuse collection both from residential and industrial estates.There should be a disposal site in each street of Limbe and also avenue nearest to the sources of waste,it should be accesible to every one and also the collection should be daily and regularly.

There is a need for more efective and up to date domestic waste transfer station and also there should be at least one domestic waste incineration plants in Limbe constructed with a daily waste treatment capacity of at least 1000 tons,which can help to generate electricity through incineration so as to recover the energy out of wastes.


Most of the African countries do not have firm grip on any sustainable method of municipal solid waste management. Cameroon government and urban councils are copying ill-adapted global strategies and technologies not suitable to the local realities.The management of municipal solid waste in Cameroon urban cities still have many problems which need's to be address.The existing collection facilities and regulation systems of solid waste management do not fit the present requirements.Most of the municipal solid waste collected at the source are not been sperated, treatment and collection facilities are limited,collected waste are mostly doumped haphazardly on the streets and open areas in Limbe.The Government of Cameroon,Limbe urban council, NGO's and private sectors are working hard in this field,but more still has to be added to the existing efforts.The main solid waste management strategies needs to be remedy,this should include admendment of current laws and regulations,improve current solid waste management system and introduce calssified collections.

The Limbe urbn council are not adequately exploring or using local intiatives and strategies, which could go a long way to improve on solid waste management within Limbe municipality.They should be locally adapted techniques,which involve collaboration with the stakeholders and coordination with the government will be very important.The iplimentation of all these above strategies will help to solve some of the solide waste management and enviroomental pollution problems to a large extent.


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