Exploring the challenges facing the solid waste sector in Douala, Cameroon

15 Apr 2016

In Douala, Cameroon, solid waste volumes and disposal costs are rising, placing pressure on a municipality that has a small tax base and multiple demands for its meagre resources. Initially the municipality outsourced the collection and disposal of solid waste to the private sector, but collection rates are declining. Informal solid waste pickers operate in the sector, but their collection rates are low. The Cameroonian government now sees a public private partnership approach as a cost efficient solution to the problem. This study interviewed key decision makers within the solid waste sector to establish how the sector could become profitable, while improving collection and recyclable recovery rates. Results show that the Cameroonian government has not fostered an enabling environment for the private sector to flourish. Unless this changes, the number of enterprises, operating profits and recyclable recovery rates will not increase. An inadequate organizational structure; poor logistical support; lack of capital and technical expertise; inhibiting government policy and regulations; as well as low levels of awareness and education at the household level inhibit growth of the sector. All stakeholders wanted the government to create a favorable climate for change through engagement and collaboration.