Author (s): Cordaid International
Type of Publication: Article
Date of Publication: 9 May 2016
‘I want the city to be clean! And this company’s going to do that.’ The new governor of Conakry, capital of West-African country Guinea, praises Maniliz Touroulé (a joint Dutch-Guinean venture) on national TV for their street cleaning work. With a garbage bag in one hand and a broom in the other, he seems more than ready to attack the heaps of rubbish lying all over the city, clogging up the street side gullies.
But can Maniliz Touroulé, a young company with 78 employees and four street cleaning cars, live up to that task? The Dutch government promised help to the local municipality, in the form of technical and capacity building assistance by Cordaid experts.
Evert van Walsum, expert in water and sanitation at Cordaid headquarters, and Sharron Kelliher, country representative at Cordaid Sierra Leone, recently travelled to the capital Conakry to survey the situation. “By all accounts, waste management is a big challenge for Conakry,” they say.
This is what they found:
The gullies, meant to drain water, are actually full of trash. (Photo: Cordaid/ Evert van Walsum)
Evert describes: “In Conakry, the only thing the municipality does is emptying garbage containers located in a few places throughout the city. They come by truck, fill it up and drive it to a big waste disposal site. From there, the waste is collected irregularly; actually not very often at all.”
The city is very much polluted and though the government has money available for waste management, that money does not always reach the lower authorities that actually collect the trash. Evert: “We’ve seen many empty containers and unused trash bins. Most trash is collected by privately-owned companies or community initiatives around marketplaces.”
I want the city to be clean!
He grins. “And then the governor states: I want the city to be clean! But what does that actually mean? The market and local businesses just dump their waste on the roadside. People’s mindsets need to change and collection and transport should be better organized.”
Adding: “There’s also a problem of drainage: the concrete gullies are full of trash and sewer waste, they get clogged and the streets flood, especially in the rainy season. Just fishing up the plastic is not enough. It’s like a soup: you can take out the meatballs and vermicelli, but they float right back in from upstream.”
In Conakry, the only thing the municipality does is emptying garbage containers located in a few places throughout the city. They come by truck, fill it up and drive it to a big waste disposal site. From there, the waste is collected irregularly; actually not very often at all
More than street cleaning: integrated waste management
To really clean Conakry, and make the system viable, Maniliz Touroulé and the municipality need to do more than sweeping streets in the middle of the night, when there’s no traffic. What is needed is an integrated approach to waste management. Evert: “That includes for example talking to people about how they dispose of their waste. But also by involvement of other municipal departments such as those of water management, housing and urban planning.”
There’s a profitable side to the waste management business as well. Cordaid has been promoting and experimenting with waste management systems that do not only cost money, but can also work as a business model to generate revenue. “This is the waste value chain: from producing waste to selling products made from recycled goods,” says Evert. “It’s more efficient, sustainable and affordable.” This can work well, even in a fragile context such as that of Guinea, which is only just recovering from the Ebola epidemic that wiped out three to four thousand lives. The ambition of Maniliz Touroulé is sweep all of Conakry. But they have to build it up step-by-step.
Les Wathinotes sont soit des résumés de publications sélectionnées par WATHI, conformes aux résumés originaux, soit des versions modifiées des résumés originaux, soit des extraits choisis par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au thème du Débat. Lorsque les publications et leurs résumés ne sont disponibles qu’en français ou en anglais, WATHI se charge de la traduction des extraits choisis dans l’autre langue. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.
The Wathinotes are either original abstracts of publications selected by WATHI, modified original summaries or publication quotes selected for their relevance for the theme of the Debate. When publications and abstracts are only available either in French or in English, the translation is done by WATHI. All the Wathinotes link to the original and integral publications that are not hosted on the WATHI website. WATHI participates to the promotion of these documents that have been written by university professors and experts.