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Municipalities struggle with waste plans, raising disease risk

The lack of Integrated Waste Management Plans (IWMPs) at municipalities means that communities are increasingly exposed to the risk of diseases. 

According to Andrew Caddick, principal environmental scientist at SRK Consulting’s Pretoria office, these plans are a legal requirement for district and local municipalities.

“An IWMP at municipal level should be guided by the province’s strategic environmental priorities, which are in turn informed by the national Department of Environmental Affairs’ National Waste Management Strategy,” said Caddick.

He warned, however, that there was wide-spread non-compliance with this planning requirement.

“Budgetary constraints at municipalities, combined with insufficient skills and inadequate oversite from government, has left many municipalities with no waste management plan,” he said. “Where these plans are in place, there is often not enough commitment to implement them.”

The frequent result was poorly managed landfills, uncontrolled dumping and inadequate maintenance of waste-related infrastructure. This has led to cases of water contamination in rural areas where people often rely on local surface or groundwater for domestic use. 

“These communities are particularly at risk of exposure to waterborne diseases through the contamination of their water sources,” he said. “Inappropriate waste management also has visual and air quality effects on a community’s health.”

He highlighted that integrated waste management planning aims to reduce the amount of waste generated, guide the reuse of waste where possible, and promote recycling. 

“The law stipulates a process to develop an IWMP – which includes a situation analysis, setting of goals and targets, and selecting the best approaches to reach these targets,” said Caddick. “The plan must align with the municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and be regularly monitored.”

Qualified, experienced and professionally recognised experts are required to guide waste management planning, and to ensure that IWMPs were practical and aligned with legislation.

“With decades of experience in integrated waste management planning in many industries, SRK is well placed to assist in developing IWMPs,” he said. “We also work with clients to help build capacity in the field of waste management.”

SRK Consulting’s range of in-house engineering and scientific expertise fosters solutions that integrate across disciplines. This allows local government to address all the technical factors in achieving effective waste management.

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