Local Authorities’ Refuse Management Incapacity an Environmental and Human Rights Threat

The 2019 Auditor General’s 2019 Report shows that most local authorities in Zimbabwe are struggling with refuse management a situation which causes serious threat to the environment and human rights in the specific communities and the nation at large. Key environmental concerns noted by the Auditor General’s report include:

Dumpsites/Landfill sites

Masvingo City Council’s Victoria Range landfill sites is reported to be unsuitable as it is too close to the residential location and this exposes residents to health and safety hazards. Mutare City Council is also reported to be operating without an approved dumpsite in compliance with environmental management legislation. The one in use was situated near a river and there was development of residential stands around the dumpsite making its location unsuitable for continued use. The affected residential areas were Gateway City, Darlington and Clay hill residential properties.

Bindura Municipality had no standard engineered landfill but was using a decommissioned

mine site. As a result, the decommissioned mine dumpsite remained non-compliant with

EMA requirements, as it was unregistered. Marondera Rural District Council also used a dumpsite that is not compliant at Mahusekwa Growth Point. Bubi Rural District Council was operating without a landfill site altogether.

Refuse Equipment

The other problem noted is lack of proper refuse equipment like compactors and refuse collection trucks. In Masvingo City Council the local authority is operating with 3 instead of the required 6 refuse compactors and this results in refuse at the landfill site not compacted at all. Chitungwiza Municipality was operating with 1 refuse compactor and old garbage collection trucks that frequently broke down. A near similar scenario was noted in Binga Rural District Council where the local authority relies on a tractor to collect garbage as it does not have refuse collection trucks.

MIHR Comment

Some of the reasons put forward by the authorities as management responses explaining why they did not have suitable landfill sites and garbage management equipment include lack of funding to establish standard scientific engineering landfill sites, unavailability of land and centralization of land allocations. With 43 local authorities still to be audited, MIHR is concerned by the inability of local authorities to have standard scientific engineering landfill sites and proper standard and adequate refuse management equipment. Unsuitable landfill sites pose a threat to environmental management, increase land pollution, air-pollution and pollution of underground water sources through leachates. We therefore call on:

  • The local authorities to expedite the construction of proper landfill sites and procurement of suitable garbage collection and management vehicles. Innovative funding mechanisms may need to be developed to fund environmental management concerns;
  • Government through Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate to develop a Treasury funded program of action to assist local authorities finance standard landfill sites construction;
  • The Parliament to amend the Environment Management Act [Chapter 20:27) and specifically devolve the management of the Environmental Fund to Provincial and District authorities.

Statement by

Khumbulani Maphosa – MIHR Coordinator

Cell: +263 771 730 018

Email: mihroffice@gmail.com

Web: https://matabelelandinstituteforhumanrights.org

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