Whether a new technology for waste management is being developed, or an old dump rehabilitated to make place for a sanitary landfill—and whether it takes place in a developed or an emerging economy—every solid waste management (SWM) project will have to engage with concerned communities and other interested parties. Successful SWM projects integrate community engagement into each phase of the project, giving the stakeholders the opportunity to contribute to the project, provide valuable information, and help identify key issues that will be prominent in the various project phases.

The level of engagement depends on the project type, magnitude of the challenge, and stakeholders’ concerns. Therefore, planning and managing an effective community engagement process and keeping stakeholders in the loop is key to a project’s success.

The informal sector plays a major role in the SWM system of many countries. Best-practice SWM strategies incorporate the views of the informal sector in the decision making process. A successful strategy will also integrate, organize, upgrade, support, and incorporate informal sector individuals into the SWM system to ensure their livelihood and quality of life is restored or enhanced by the project’s activities.

The case of Kampala

In Uganda, the Kampala Solid Waste Management public-private partnership is shaping up to be an especially good example of how to structure SWM outreach to engage the informal sector. In Kampala, many people dispose of solid waste through indiscriminate dumping, burning, and burying. Only 55 percent of solid waste generated is collected, transported, and disposed of in the city’s one landfill site. Solid waste collection and transportation in the project area is currently carried out by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) alongside private sector and informal collectors, depending on an area’s income level. The city’s landfill is close to capacity and is in need of remediation. There are currently 380 registered waste pickers at the landfill. In addition, there are Community Based Organizations (CBO) involved in recycling at source and collecting waste for a nominal fee from informal settlements.

To resolve these challenges, KCCA is developing the new Kampala City Integrated Waste Management System. The new system will improve collection, transport, and treatment of municipal waste, and incorporate the informal sector as part of an integrated approach across the waste management value chain.

The informal waste pickers and other informal recyclers have the potential to be reintegrated in the new system, and KCCA is undertaking the following key steps to help them:

Identify, Plan, Inform, and Consult

KCCA is designing a strategy and plan to identify, inform, and consult all relevant stakeholders. The goal is to communicate effectively the overall objectives and mechanisms of the proposed project, and collect and address key community comments and concerns.

Formalize Strategy and Plan

KCCA is setting clear objectives and measurable targets to be achieved with an effective stakeholder engagement, consultation, and communications strategy. The project uses tools such as education and knowledge sharing campaigns, interviews with key stakeholders, stakeholder conferences, an on-site consultation forum, and tailored communications material.

Require the PPP to Create Commercial Waste Picking Opportunities

KCCA is committed to improving waste pickers’ livelihoods while improving waste management services through the project. KCCA will organize activities to engage and educate waste pickers and other informal recyclers about their potential reintegration in the new system. KCCA will also require the winning bidder of the landfill operation to incorporate the waste pickers into commercially viable operations, and develop a communication strategy and plan that will ensure continuity.

Encourage CBO Partnerships to Ensure Sustainability

The CBOs are also being encouraged to form operational partnerships with established waste collectors in the city so that working relationships with the informal sector extend beyond the bidding phase of the project.