The Solid Waste Management System in Maputo
Solid waste management (SWM), e.g. garbage collection and removal, has been one of the most significant challenges facing the CMM as it has struggled to fulfil its legal responsibilities as an urban service provider. Even before the first elected municipal council took office in 1999, the struggle to keep Maputo’s streets clear of refuse has daunted local officials and consumed a significant portion of the resources available for service delivery.
The chronic problems with SWM were raised to a crisis level by the floods of 2000. Many low-lying neighborhoods, especially low-income informal peri-urban settlements, were inundated for weeks by waste-laden standing water. Municipal drains, including several major conduits, were blocked by accumulated waste which exacerbated the flooding. CMM’s reflexive responses to the crisis, including appeals to central government and donors for more money and garbage trucks, were not adequate to address the deficiencies of its SWM system.
A number of initiatives were undertaken at various levels beginning in 2001 to improve SWM in Maputo. With German financing, a GTZ technical assistance project (Apoio a Gestão de Resíduos Sólidos Urbanos, AGRESU) to CMM began a comprehensive program of management assistance and organizational development for the SWM sector. A new Councilor and Director for Health and Sanitation were appointed by the Mayor to lead these efforts internally. A private firm was contracted with a short-term injection of central government funding to collect and haul the waste. However, CMM was unable to maintain regular payments causing the firm to withdraw in 2002. In order to finance service delivery, CMM negotiated to collect a surtax on domestic electricity bills, administered by Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM), the electricity utility, which would generate earmarked revenues for SWM. Because improvements to waste collection were not evident when the surtax appeared on electricity bills, a widespread negative political reaction—including street protests—caused the CMM to suspend collection until the Municipality’s plans were further detailed and communicated to civil society.
During the same period (2000-3), community based responses to deficiencies in SWM at bairro level were initiated, often with the support of international NGOs. Local-level leaders and civic associations in peri-urban bairros felt the need to address the problems associated with accumulated solid waste. They also recognized that CMM, given its inability to establish adequate regular service in the urban core, was unlikely to respond adequately to the demands to establish SWM services in peri-urban areas, where they had never been extended beyond major trunk roads. As such, small-scale initiatives were needed to fill the gaps between municipal capacity and the needs of bairro residents for SWM services.
Pioneering neighborhood-based SWM initiatives were established beginning in 2001 in the Bairros of Urbanização—by a local association Associação para o Desenvolvimento de Agua e Saneamento de Bairro Urbanização (ADASBU) with assistance from Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF)—and in Maxaquene—by a local micro-enterprise Uaene Gama Serviços de Maxaquene (UGSM) with assistance from CARE. Again, stimulated by the floods and by post-flood community development assistance, these initiatives supported by technical advice from the AGRESU Project, established labor-based door-to-door collection using paid neighborhood residents and push-carts (tchovas). To establish a basis for financial sustainability beyond NGO assistance, bairro public meetings were held to establish household fees to fund ADABSU and UGSM. This “primary collection” required domestic waste to be manually hauled to collection points where municipal vehicles further transported waste to the CMM’s dumpsite. Thus from the beginning these initiatives were linked to the municipality’s own SWM system.
CMM came to recognize the effectiveness of the bairro-based approach to primary collection of domestic solid waste. However, the establishment of the city-wide fee associated with electricity bills provoked a crisis for bairro-based service providers in Urbanização and Maxaquene: residents of these bairros were being double-billed for the same service—once at bairro level by ADABSU and UGSM, then again by CMM through EDM. In response to complaints bairro fees were suspended and primary collection services were sustained for many months by international NGOs. However, this crisis in local service financing eventually produced a workable and sustainable solution: CMM signed contracts with ADABSU and UGSM to continue primary collection funded by the municipality itself, thus using the universal fee administered by EDM to finance the local level element of a coordinated SWM system supporting bairros with both primary and secondary waste collection.
The ultimate result of this innovative experience with mixed municipal and bairro-based SWM has been the adoption by CMM of this model for full-scale implementation in all peri-urban bairros. Beginning in 2006, World Bank assistance has allowed CMM to implement a variety of technical and organizational reforms recommended by AGRESU, including municipal contracting of private firms to provide performance-based primary collection in the urban core and secondary collection in outlying bairros. In addition, gradual increases in solid waste fees accompanied by the introduction of a progressive rate structure have provided sufficient resources to establish bairro-based contracts for primary collection to a much larger number of bairros. Since mid-2011 all 43 peri-urban bairros are benefiting from municipally financed primary collection integrated into this mixed model for provision of SWM services.