Wealth from waste

Emma Leedham learns how Living Earth Uganda is addressing the problem of plastic waste in Kampala, and tackling poverty along the way

This article was taken from Issue 74

In the urban slums of Kampala, the Ugandan capital, the issue of plastic dumping is of growing concern. The irregularity of solid waste collection by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in many poor neighbourhoods leads people to dispose of their plastic bags and bottles on illegal sites. As a result of this inadequate service, around 51 per cent of the city’s waste is left uncollected, eventually lining the streets, and wreaking environmental havoc. 

The environmental consequences of illegal waste disposal are devastating: plastics are non-biodegradable, so they contaminate soils, with knock-on effects for food production; plastic bottles block drainage channels, causing floods and thus higher incidences of diseases such as malaria and cholera; and plastic bags find their way to natural water bodies, such as Lake Victoria, killing aquatic life.