Zanzibar passes new regulation developed by CSE on solid waste management

The first of its kind in East Africa, the regulation will help Tanzania's semi-autonomous archipelago to tackle its burgeoning waste problem

By Sonia Henam, Swati Singh Sambyal
Published: Saturday 10 August 2019
A signboard outside a composting pit in Zanzibar which mentions the Centre for Science and Environment. Photo: Sonia Henam/Swati Singh Sambyal/CSE
A signboard outside a composting pit in Zanzibar which mentions the Centre for Science and Environment. Photo: Sonia Henam/Swati Singh Sambyal/CSE A signboard outside a composting pit in Zanzibar which mentions the Centre for Science and Environment. Photo: Sonia Henam/Swati Singh Sambyal/CSE

Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago of Tanzania, has recently passed the Urban Municipal Council Solid Waste Management (SWM) Regulations, 2019, developed by Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to ensure sustainable SWM.

“The draft regulation was approved during the full council meeting at the Zanzibar Urban Municipal Council (ZUMC) on February 1, 2019, and was further approved by the Regional Commissioner’s office and the Ministry of the Local Administration, Zanzibar”, said Mzee Khamis Juma, Assistant Director, ZUMC.

The new regulation is currently under government press for printing as a gazette notification.

It is the first of its kind in East Africa and is based on the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’. The new law is expected to help Zanzibar revamp its waste management infrastructure and help to enforce SWM practices on the island.

Waste management has been a huge challenge on Zanzibar. The island is a tourism hub, and receives between 0.5 and 0.6 million tourists every year.

According to the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors or ZATI, tourism represents 27 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, 80 per cent of the foreign direct investment, and 70 per cent of foreign currency earnings. 

According to the Zanzibar Environment Management Authority (ZEMA), the island generates approximately 663 tonnes per day (TPD) of municipal solid waste. The three main municipal councils namely, ZUMC, West A and B Municipal Councils generate almost half of the total waste generated by the island ― approximately 363 (TPD).

Disposal of municipal, biomedical and e-wastes is also a huge concern. “The collection efficiency of municipalities is between 40 to 50 per cent. The collected waste is sent to the landfill site at Kibele. The remaining waste is haphazardly disposed or burnt, which creates nuisance and jeopardises the environment”, adds Juma.

How CSE helped in bringing change

A stakeholders'meeting on the new Solid Waste Management Regulation in Zanzibar in August, 2019. Photo: Sonia Henam/Swati Singh Sambyal/CSECSE has been working with ZEMA, Department of Environment and the ZUMC since January 2017, to implement decen­tralised waste management systems and push for policy change in Zanzibar.

The first pilot on decentralised waste management was launched in Santana playground in Shaurimoyo on September 6, 2017. The pilot under the programme Waste Segregation for Clean Zanzibar is now completed and all 626 households in Shaurimoyo segregate waste at source.

The wet waste is composted at source and the dry waste is channelised for recycling. The sanitary, household hazardous and non-recyclable waste is sent to the landfill site.

“In about two years’ time, not only has the whole of Shaurimoyo adopted the segregation incentive waste management model but the local co-operative has also been incentivised from sale of compost and recyclables”, said Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general.

“This is a frugal and wealth generating model rather than collection and dumping which should be adopted in whole of Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania”, he added.

In order to replicate this work in the whole of island, it was required to have a byelaw or regulation through which the segregation incentive model could be practiced across Zanzibar. This work was further taken up by ZUMC and ZEMA in 2017 and a team of lawyers from ZUMC and ZEMA prepared the draft regulation.

Major provisions

The regulation emphasises the generator’s responsibility to segregate domestic waste into three streams namely compostable, recyclable and non-recyclable waste and to handover to the ZUMC. 

The ZUMC shall be further responsible to ensure this segregated waste is collected, processed and disposed in a segregated manner. In order to avoid spilling and littering of solid waste, any transport facilities shall be well covered.

Their duty also includes encouraging every occupier to reduce their generation of solid waste as well as reuse the reusable solid waste before handing over to the collector. ‘Occupier’ roughly means any person who either owns a premises or takes it on lease from the owner. If any occupier violates the same, they are liable to a fine or imprisonment or to render community service.

Another role of the council is to educate and train households, businesses, and other institutions on the merits of reducing, segregating, reusing, recycling, and composting solid waste at source, in partnership with environmental non-profits, schools, universities, youth councils, women’s associations, and donor agencies or organisations. The occupier is provided or supplied a solid waste receptacle by the council whenever deemed necessary.

The regulation is based on the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’, under which the generator has to pay a user fee or service charge on a monthly basis to the council. The service charge has been prescribed under the First Schedule of the regulation.

In addition to that, one shall not burn or bury solid waste at the collection points, transfer stations, at landfill sites or any other public or private areas within the ZUMC’s jurisdiction.

Inauguration of the pilot project. Photo: Sonia Henam/Swati Singh Sambyal/CSEUnder the regulation, a permit is required for the transportation of solid waste by any agent who accumulates a large quantity of solid waste. The application shall be made to the Council and its director will issue a permit for the same.

To minimise adverse impacts to human safety, health, and the environment, the processing and treatment method is based on waste management hierarchy of reduction, reuse or repurposing, recycling and treatment and proper disposal with focus on decentralised technologies such as composting.

The regulation also specifies how one can identify a composting site and the need of permission from the Council to establish a composting site. Also, the Council shall encourage and provide incentives to recycling and composting businesses, buyers, and entrepreneurs.

Recycling units need to have a place of storage approved by the council, keep record of the day-to-day activities; provide workers with protective gear, ensure safe transportation of the waste to name a few. If they fail to ensure the duties listed, they are liable to a fine or to render community service or both.

It also describes the responsibilities of construction and demolition waste producers, industrial and hazardous or e–waste producer. Most importantly, the role of waste-pickers in the solid waste management system has been recognised by the Council.

There are four Schedules included in the regulation:

The first Schedule talks about the charges and fees for solid waste services, the second, third and fourth Schedules are the format of the application form for demolition and construction waste storage permits; registration application form for hazardous, industrial & e-wastes producers and transporters and the permit application form to transport bulk wastes respectively.

Way forward

“With the new regulations providing legal teeth to the regulators, the authorities must now ensure that the details of the regulation are widely disseminated to educate the public about their role and responsibility,” said Sheha Mjaja, director general, ZEMA.

“As a next step, we need to works towards making this regulation adopted in the rest of municipalities of Zanzibar. Our focus will have to be more on ensuring compliance, behaviour change and replicating decentralised waste management systems in the whole of Zanzibar. Otherwise, it would just be another case of a good implementation and policy wasted due to inaction”, added Mjaja.

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