A waste management plan with a new legal framework completed
Cost recovery mechanism implemented to ensure sustainability of solid waste management system
Guyana opens a new sanitary waste landfill to replace outmoded facility
Through the Georgetown Solid Waste Management Program, Guyana is laying the groundwork for closing an outdated and inefficient solid waste disposal site in the center of the capital of Georgetown and replacing it with a new privately-operated sanitary landfill that will serve both the city and surrounding neighborhoods. The IDB-financed program also includes the preparation of a master plan for waste management, as well as training for public and private entities that operate in the sector.
The program is being financed through an $18 million loan extended from the Bank’s Fund for Special Operation in 2006. In 2010, the IDB Board of Directors approved an additional $2 million for the Georgetown Solid Waste Management Program Supplementary Financing, with the purpose of covering the cost overruns of the project.
Obsolete disposal site to close
Problems in Guyana’s solid waste management sector include unclear and overlapping responsibilities within key agencies, an inadequate level of public awareness, the absence of systematic waste minimization or recycling efforts, and a weak legislative and regulatory framework. As a result, in several Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDC), waste is not collected, forcing residents to burn or bury it, or dump it in vacant lots, along roadsides, and in drainage canals.
Over the years, the impact of improper solid waste management has become the critical environmental problem in Georgetown and all over Guyana. This problem has become more acute over time, creating unpleasant esthetic conditions and threatening the health of the urban population. The negative impact of improper waste disposal was heavily felt during the January 2005 flood when waste-filled canals did not drain as rapidly as expected.
Guyana’s central metropolitan population of 352,000 generates about 103,000 tons of solid waste annually, of which half is produced by Georgetown and the remainder by residents in the 15 surrounding NDC districts. Up to February 2011, waste from Georgetown and some of the NDCs was disposed at the centrally located Mandela disposal site (now called Le Repentir), at a rate of 63,700 tons annually. The facility was created in 1993 as a demonstration project, but subsequently exceeded its maximum capacity. During the last years of operation, problems at the disposal site included fires, untreated leachate, and trash sliding from the waste mounds into nearby canals. Through the Georgetown Solid Waste Management Program, the disposal site has been rehabilitated and since February 2011, with the opening of the new Haags Bosch sanitary landfill (HBSLF), no further waste is being accepted. Currently, a private operator is engaged in the final closure of the site, providing much needed relief to the local community.
In 2010, before the closure of the Le Repentir, about 70 waste pickers were actively operating at the site, sorting out material that would be sold to local companies for export to processing plants in Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom. Upon closure of the site, the Informal Recycler Upgrading Plan was set up to restore pickers’ livelihoods.
The project in brief
The Georgetown Solid Waste Management Program attempts to provide a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the solid waste management problem in Georgetown and surrounding environs that meets international standards of practice and which includes a cost recovery mechanism to ensure the long-term sustainability.
Institutional strengthening includes the provision of consulting services to the project executing unit within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. The objective is to improve the unit’s capacity for supervision and management, accounting and budgeting; stakeholder consultation and participation; updating landfill operation and management manuals; coordination with other institutions; and updating cadastre, property valuation, and property tax collection systems. Additional capacity building activities were carried out, including training for the Neighborhood Democratic Councils in data collection, costing for sustainability, and cost recovery.
A private sector operator was contracted to construct and operate the HBSLF for the first 10 years of its 25-year lifetime. Upon completion, the facility will include administration buildings, scales, space and waste recyclers, roads, leachate and runoff collection and treatment facilities, energy and water supply equipment, wheel washing facilities, gas collection and treatment, and recycling and composting facilities and equipment. Located four km south of the center of Georgetown, the HBSLF will be constructed and operated according to international technical and environmental standards and good practices.
The program also includes a search for private operators that will collect waste from participating NDCs and deliver it at the HBSLF and clean and close seven existing dumpsites. Additional activities include the purchase of equipment such as collection bins and small collection vehicles that will be used to reach areas with difficult access.
The program also includes an Informal Recycler Upgrading Plan. The goal of the plan is to restore the incomes of all recyclers affected by the closure of the Le Repentir disposal site to levels equal or superior to those prior to the closure, while at the same time improving their living and working conditions. Several of the pickers who were operating at the Le Repentir are now working at the new landfill. The specific goals of the plan are to ensure adequate, safe, and easy access to recyclable materials; improve the health, safety and security of their working conditions; improve the effectiveness, efficiency and profitability of their professional activities; formalize those activities and allow them recognition and benefits as professionals; strengthen capacity, skills, and organization; and address the special needs of particularly vulnerable groups (such as women, children, the elderly, the sick and the physically disabled).
The supplementary financing for the program, approved in 2010, is covering cost overruns, specifically for completion of the HBSLF, which is being carried out with the participation of a specialized private sector operator. The additional resources are also financing construction of the access road to the HBLSF site.
The supplementary financing operation also includes actions to mitigate environmental and safety impacts; these had been not addressed in the original operation because the IDB’s current environmental safeguards screening and classification system had not been in place at the time the project was being planned.
The IDB’s partners
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) provides support to Guyana’s solid waste activities through training and capacity building. PAHO prepared a solid waste sector study defining the problems and an action plan to implement solutions; that study included the present program. During a major flood in 2005, PAHO coordinated most of the efforts regarding solid waste collection and disposal, including those of the IDB.
Toward the future
The program’s ultimate goal of providing a sustainable solution to the solid waste collection and disposal problems in Georgetown and participating Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) can be reached only if strong institutional and technical capacity is built within the country. For this reason, the IDB team is working with the government to build and consolidate sectoral expertise and to set up a cost-recovery mechanism that will allow the government to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the solid waste management system. Considering that the part of the country not covered by the program still disposes of solid waste in inefficient ways, dialogue will continue with the government to understand how and when an experience like the Haagsh Bosch can be repeated. In the meantime, the need to raise public awareness for a better management of solid waste among households, industries, and commerce needs to be treated as a priority.