Scholar studies solid waste management in South Sudan

posted on August 23, 2017 10:16am

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South Sudan, like other developing countries, has a problem collecting solid waste. That is: one-third to two-thirds of the solid waste generated is not collected. The town of Bor, with its fast-growing population and rapid urbanization, exemplifies the problem.

Manyok John Garang, a scholar with the Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development (BHEARD) program, has studied the management and collection of solid waste in Bor. His goal is to generate information on solid-waste handling practices and use it to develop long-term management strategies.

The goal of BHEARD, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is to develop agricultural scientists and increase agricultural research capacity in partner countries. The program is named after Dr. Norman Borlaug, an American biologist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution.”

Garang, pictured at right, recently returned home to South Sudan after earning a master’s degree in environmental science from Egerton University in Kenya. While earning his degree, he conducted a study focused on 384 Bor residents. The study assessed the types and sources of solid waste the residents generated and determined their knowledge levels, practices and attitudes toward solid waste management.

Garang found that the major solid waste materials generated in Bor include plastic (41%), organic waste (29%), paper (15%), wood (6.3%) and metal (0.5%). The materials mainly were obtained from places of residence, commercial buildings, agricultural fields, institutions and construction sites. Most residents had little knowledge of solid waste disposal or the diseases that can be caused by poor disposal. Open dumping (62.4%) was the most popular method of waste disposal. Other methods included burning (34.7%), composting (2.1%) and reusing (0.5%). The major management challenges faced by residents were a long distance to the dump site and a lack of environmental policies. Other challenges included lack of funds and lack of collection space, according to the study.

Based on the results of the study, Garang has some recommendations for Bor residents:

  • Efforts should be made to link up with recycling agencies, since the bulk of the solid waste is recyclable
  • Municipal governments should launch a widespread awareness campaign to deal with the negative perceptions concerning solid waste disposal, should enhance positive perceptions and should provide more information about ways to make positive changes
  • Government efforts to build more waste disposal sites should be supported and the necessary funds allocated
  • Efforts should be made to improve road infrastructure, in order to support easier waste disposal.

Now that he’s home, Garang hopes to develop waste management policies based on his recommendations, to give advice on combating global climate change and to teach at an institution of higher learning. He also hopes to one day earn a Ph.D.

– Matt Milkovich