Enda Ethiopia Preceup

Research Component




March 1999



1. Addis Ababa


Unlike the other African cities of colonised countries, Addis Ababa is characterised by its spontaneous growth as an indigenous city with very little impact of external forces. The city began to develop as a political, economic and cultural centre in subsequent years. Services such as piped water, electric light and other facilities attracted migrant population from other parts of the country. In addition to this rate of rural-urban migration drained rural labour force from agricultural production created problems of unemployment, congestion and strains on existing inadequate social services in Addis Ababa (Solomon Gebre, 1996)



Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, was founded in 1887 by emperor Menelik II(and his wife). It is located in the central highlands of Ethiopia, covering an area of 530 km 2. With an elevation ranging from 2000-2800 m a.s.l. it is the highest capital of Africa. Its topography is constituted by hills, valleys, rivers and streams. The air temperature is fairly constant throughout the year, with variations between 20 to 25 C during the day, and between 7 and 11 C at night. Average rainfall is 1200 mm per year, with the major rains occurring between July and September.



Addis Ababa accommodates about 30% of the total urban population in Ethiopia. It's population amounted to 2.1 million in the 1994 population census, estimated to reach 2.3 million in 1997 (CSA, 1995). Other sources give higher estimates (3.5-4 million). The population census of 1984 gave a population at that time of 1.4 million, revealing an increase of 60% over a decade, at an annual growth rate of 3.79%. Most of this growth is due to in-migration.


Population density reaches 632 inhabitants/ha in the slum areas and 5 inhabitants/ha in Addis Ababa rural.


32% of the Addis Ababa's population is below 15 years old and 1.7% is above 64 years old. There are over 78 ethnic groups in the city, the major ones being the Amharas, Oromos, Gurages and Tigrays. 81% of the Addis Ababa population follows the Christian orthodox religion, 13% are muslims, the remainder following various other religions.


Social aspects

A characteristic feature of Addis Ababa is that rich and poor live together without segregation. Slums are found in well-to-do areas, while wealthy residences and high buildings are standing in the midst of slum areas.


The literacy rate in Addis Ababa is 83%. Net enrolment ratios in primary, junior and senior secondary school are 73, 35 and 36% respectively in total, with a very similar representation for both boys and girls.


Economic aspects

The economic activity rate for Addis Ababa is 53.08%, with 65.22% for men and 41.89% for women. These figures include all persons engaged in household chores, food preparation, house cleaning, daily labour, taking care of children, collecting fire wood. Income is below the poverty line for 60% of the households, according to UNDP.


The biggest employer is the public service sector, which employs 42% of the economically active population. 67% of Ethiopia's industries are found in Addis Ababa, but the sector accounts for only 13% of the city's economically active population. The so-called informal sector, which is defined as household type of establishments/activities

employed 166 405 people in 1996 according to the sample survey conducted by the Central Statistical Authority and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. This represents 26% of economically active population in urban Addis Ababa. One-fifth of the total income is shared by 63% of the city's population, while less than 2% share another quintile (Bigston and Negatu, 1995).


Women and children small economic activities are the main source of income for 41% of the households belonging to the poorest segment of the society (CRDA, 1997). As a matter of fact, the population considered to be "economically active" starts from age 10.


Access to basic services

The rapid population growth in Addis Ababa has put a severe stress on services and infrastructure.

According to the 1994 population census 4.4% of the houses have tap water inside. More than 45% obtain drinking water from outside their compounds (water vendors, etc.).



In 1991 (?) Ethiopia was divided into 14 regions. Addis Ababa, which is located in the Oromia State (Region 4) was granted its own autonomous administrative status, and named Region 14. Region 14 includes both an urban and a rural part, known as Addis Ababa urban and Addis Ababa rural in statistical documents.


As an autonomous regional entity, the city is vested with legislative, executive and judicial powers. It is governed by a city council, known as the Addis Ababa City Council (?), representing the 6 zones into which Addis Ababa is divided. Each zone is divided into weredas, and weredas into kebeles, or neighbourhoods, which form the smallest administrative unit of the city. There are 28 weredas and 305 kebeles in Addis Ababa urban and 23 farmers' associations in Addis Ababa rural. A kebele has at least three elected officials who are paid by the City Council.


Since Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia, modern economic activities, social and infrastructural services are found relatively in a better situation than other cities of Ethiopia. However the existing socio-economic and infrastructural development of Addis Ababa is too slow to meet the demands of the increasing population from time to time due to both natural growth and rural-urban migration.

The increase in population growth in urban areas which resulted in concentration of population followed by the generation of all wastes. Together with the development of cities and increase of population, the amount of waste disposal is increasing from time to time. The city has not been able


Among other many urban problems, the poor solid waste management system existing in Addis Ababa or other cities of the country is the main one of which our city population are suffering from.


Liquid and solid waste

Addis Ababa has a limited sewerage system, designed for 200 000, but presently covering only 6000 households


Waste in last 20 years

The amount of waste generated by the city in 1996/97 is estimated to be 1386 m2/day. Out of this, 750 m3 is collected by the municipal services

Initiatives (cf. CERFE 118 - 6%)


According to a study by Meson ((1996), solid waste is rankest top of environmental Problems in Addis Ababa, scoring 26.47, and immediately followed by sewerage (20.59), then population congestion (14.71).


2. What has been researched and how was the study conducted? Why the focus on recycling? (cf. integrated or disintegrated?)


Four major components have been researched for this study:

  1. Management of solid waste at home
  2. Waste collection and disposal by the municipal services
  3. Recycling aspects
  4. The policy and legislative environment in which enterprises have to operate


Waste management in Addis Ababa is totally disintegrated. The municipal services run a waste collection and disposal service, which is under the responsibility of the Region 14 Health Bureau. The concern of this Bureau is, obviously, health, and waste management is therefore considered from the point of view of its impact on health only. Several practices exist which contribute to the management of waste, but these are not considered as one of the mechanisms that helps alleviate the waste accumulation in the city.


The focus here is on recovery and recycling, as practised at home and as economic activity. Although the existence of these practices is acknowledged, their importance is disregarded by the society at large, by the municipal services and by other local authorities. This being the case, interventions aiming at improving environmental sanitation in the town never include operators and people involved in recovery and recycling sectors. On the contrary, some interventions go completely against the interests of this sector, thereby aggravating the solid waste problem even more.


Concern about the urgency of the waste problem has been growing steadily in the last years. Promoting the recycling and recovery sector and integrating it into a


Complains about "lack of means" are commonly heard in Ethiopia. On the other hand, Ethiopia prides itself to be a country "of great potential". If it is true that a country has a potential, it means that resources do exist, but that they are not exploited and valued. This study intends to show, for a very restricted sector, that different resources are available. Ignoring them is wasting them. Using them in complementation and mutual reinforcement with will contribute in tackling urban development problems more efficiently.


2. Waste management at home


Two areas were selected for collecting data on the management of household waste. The first area is Akaki (wereda 26 and 27) and the other around the centre of Addis Ababa called Zebegna Sefer (wereda 9 kebele 12). The reason for selecting these two areas is the availability of groups with whom Enda-Ethiopia has been working in the past year. In Akaki, Enda-Ethiopia works with a group of 25? Youth, both boys and girls aged 16-19, most of them still students and members of the Akaki Red Cross Environment Club. The first links were created after an Enda-Ethiopia staff had participated in their school's Environment Day and presented a talk on urban waste management. Since then, urban agriculture activities were started in the area, both in the school and in the youth's households, and a campaign for collecting waste plastic bags was conducted in June 1998.


All in all, 523 households were interviewed, 367 in Akaki, covering several kebeles in the two weredas, and 156 in Zebegna Sefer, covering one single kebele. A statistical analysis was done for the data collected in both sites..


Separation of waste

Separation of waste at home differs between well-to-do and poor households. Strict separation of household waste is practised in poor households, since they make a varied use of their waste. Cow dung is used to plaster the floor and walls of the houses, or processed into dung cakes and used as fuel. Pieces of paper, thread and plastic bags are used burned to initiate three stone fire burning. Used paper, such as paper from old exercise books of their children, are reused as toilet paper by the family. The only item which poor households have for sale to qorales are their worn-out slippers.

 The well-to-do families responded that they don't separate household waste at source. However, the children at home collect some of the saleable used bottles, glasses, and nail paint containers to sell when the " Korales" come.

 The responsibility of household waste collection and separation also varies between the well to do and the poor families. In poor families, it is the mother assisted by her daughters (if she has), who handles the household cleaning and separating of the waste. The male members of the family do not participate in these activities, except that they sometime involve themselves when the waste is bulky and some physical help is required to transport it to damping places.

 In case of the well to do families, it is servants who collect and dispose off household wastes.


Common salvaging and recycling practices

At household level, especially in low-income groups, waste is widely used as an economic resource. If there is the least advantage to be gained, housewives, maids or children will sort the waste and make sure that they get the benefit, whether in terms of cash (koralie), equipment (lewach), bio-fertiliser (vegetable gardens and vegetable growers), cattle feed or energy. Such practices have to be encouraged because they contribute to reducing the quantity of waste that needs to be carried to the collection containers and transported to the landfill.


The dung cakes sold as fuel are an appropriate means of recovering the manure and supplying fuel to Addis Ababa's population. This practice surely has an important impact on the city's environment, yet it has not been thoroughly researched. Without a thorough comprehension of how this and other common practices affect the urban environment and the livelihood of Addis Ababa's more than 2 million residents, there is a risk that inappropriate decisions will be taken.


3. Appraisal of situation at kebele level (A-R stories)


The information on the waste situation in the neighbourhoods a participatory survey was conducted by youth groups in two areas of Addis Ababa: The first group came from Akaki (wereda and ), and was composed of the members of the Red Cross Environment Club. The second group was composed of 10-12 young women (age 20-25) from a neighbourhood in the centre of the town, known as Zebenya Sefer (wereda , kebele 09).


This part of the programme was expected to be conducted as research-action, with the two groups presenting the outcome of the surveys to their respective communities, identifying with them which of the problems they would address first and planning the actions to be taken. Because of the border conflict between Ethiopia and Erythrea, and the ensuing impossibility to mobilise communities for anything else than support to refugees, displaced populations and soldiers on the front, it was not possible to complete the programme as expected. The two groups were able to conduct the surveys, analyse the data they had collected, prepare different forms of presentations of the waste problem in their respective neighbourhoods. They could not go beyond this stage, because local authorities in the kebeles and woredas would not allow community meetings unless they were for a patriotic purpose. Environmental sanitation was not considered patriotic.


In due course of the process, different styles of presentation are being agreed upon with the groups we are working in both the places. Mainly we have identified three functions:-

  1. Prepare a script for a drama play to depict the real situation in an action supported style.
  2. 2. Based on an identified topic a debate will be performed by the groups themselves to inculcate the realization about waste in the minds of the community.

    3. The third function is showing the slide film to the community and make oral explanation for further clarity.


    1. Major issues identified

    From the pictures taken by the youth in their respective neighbourhoods, and from the scripts they have written the pictures in preparation of presenting the waste problem to the communities,

     Representative historical happenings ascertaining the seriousness of problems of waste in Addis Ababa. These are events extracted from the study to show the worsening trend of waste management in Addis Ababa.


    1. Waste is toxic, it can kill

    A man who lost his wife because of an ailment brought as a result of solid and liquid waste disposed very closed to his house, was a real agony to him and to all who heard about it.


  3. A women who prepares local bread for sale but is using paper and other dried bio-degradable waste from the nearby waste disposal site as fuelwood. Because of the proximity of the waste thrown to where she bakes bread, flies were observed disturbing her.

  5. Some households are observed disposing their waste into the river basin because of absence of skip in the area. This practice has contaminated the river water to the extent of restraining the movement of the water.

  7. Wrongly placed waste collection skips along the asphalt road were observed dangerous to children crossing the road to dump their waste.

  9. A man living nearby waste disposal skip was found psychologically affected for the reason that he found his son (small) blowing used up " condom " from the skips.

  11. A situation where the local administration constructed a common latrine for a group of households but the people didn't want to use it because of mismanagement and even went to the extent of asking the local administration to close it for there was an incident where one of the children of the village was about to be drawned into the latrine well. Another situation observed was that the recklessness of the villagers which went to the extent of throwing dead animals into the latrine.

  13. Wrong alignment of open drainage ditches and misuse of the ditches by the community has also been a cause for waste accumulation. In some places it was observed that the liquid waste does not move through the ditches. Rather, it stands still. On the other hand, the community does not also use the ditch for the purpose it was designed. Even dry solid waste was being dumped into the drainage ditches. To check on the acceptance of ditch construction the people were enquired whether they appreciate the construction of ditches or not they prefer if ditches were not constructed.

  15. The community pays very little attention to waste management. This was proved as a result of the survey in the habit the people have developed in sending small boys and girls for waste disposal whose ages couldn't allow them to either carry the solid waste or even dump the waste in the skip which is too high to them to empty the waste into the skips.

  17. A woman who used to make her livelihood from sale of a local beverage called " Tela " has now stopped her business since all the people come to dump their waste in the skip placed in front of her house and her customers refused to take drinks in a dirty place where all garbage is seen right in front.

  19. Victims of any circumstances are always the disabled. A crippled young man told enumerators that of all the places in the vicinity, his place is very dirty. This is because, the others have all the energy to tell people not to dump their wastes in front of their house. But, since he is disabled and can not see them or even has no force to stop them from doing it, he is affected more than anyone in the surrounding.
  20. Taking pictures of the most fascinating places of waste accumulation together with interviewing the affected citizens found in the vicinity as a matter of coincidence by going around the villages.
  21. Compile the interviews and arrange the pictures to serve as supporting testimonials for the compilations of the interviews.
  22. Convey the outcome of the survey in an impressive way in styles (like in dramas, debates) to win the attention of the audience to be able achieve targeted goals.


Each group was provided with a camera and the necessary stationery. There was no questionnaire or any format developed to guide the survey. This was deliberately done to encourage the groups use their own talents and approach to be able to maximize their gain from the interviews.


Deployed in different directions for the survey, the groups brought interesting information within almost ten days.


Each group was able to conduct up to 50 interviews and make up to 30 slide filmed photographic records of improperly disposed wastes on the status of waste in Addis Ababa. Once, we feel that enough material has been collected from the survey, a series of steps to raise the awareness of the community in meetings to be arranged with the respective Kebeles will be undertaken.


2. Awareness

As preparatory to debate performance the youth group identified the awareness level of the community as a topic for the debate. They divided themselves into two groups and performed the debate one group being in favor and another against. This is based on the real situation they have observed during the survey.


Arguments in favor


  1. People have responded positively for the study. This shows that they are aware of the problem and have some ambition may be these surveyors will take this issue to the attention of those who can resolve it.

  3. They argue that when the drainage ditch is clogged by dry waste they have reported the situation for the near by local administration, these shows that they are very well aware of waste problem.

  5. In some places, some people are observed to take the initiative to burn some dead animals thrown in the waste collection skips. This is a good example which shows that the awareness about waste and its dangers is high.

  7. What ever the community does is knowingly because of lack of the enabling alternatives to solve the problems. Some of the inhabitants have boldly spoken of their purposeful breach of sanitation rules for they don't have proper latrine and waste accumulation skips in the area.


 Arguments against


  1. Most people do not care about the others. When they clean their compounds, they dump their waste anywhere, as long as it is not too far away from where they live. They don't even realize that the open space where they dump the waste is also a play ground for their children.

  3. Waste management at household level is taken to be the task of women at home. Men do not participate in waste management at household level, they say it is not meant for men.

  5. Small children are sent whose height is by far less than the collection skip and who do not have force to carry the waste baskets are given the responsibilities of waste disposal to the skips. They drop almost half of the waste before they reach the skips and secondly, even after reaching nearby the skip the clearance of the skip from the ground is to high that the children are unable to empty their waste into the skips. This is done, according to the debaters, because people have less awareness about waste and its proper management.

  7. Even grown ups bring their waste and throw it around the skip knowing that the skips are already full. This shows according to debaters, that they have some ignorance and could not realize that it is woeful to dump waste on a skip which is already full.


4. Collection of waste

 Municipal services

 Management of solid waste in Addis Ababa is handled by the Solid Waste Management Team, in the Environmental Health Department of Region 14 Health Bureau. The Team is responsible for arranging collection and disposal of waste, street cleaning and organising sanitation campaigns.


 Municipal waste collection is handled in three ways: door-to-door, block and communal collections using three types of collection vehicles: side load trucks, closed compacting type trucks, and container lift trucks (Environmental Health Department, 1997).

 1. Door-to-door collection. In this collection system, which covers less than 15% of the total amount of waste collected in the city, households living along accessible streets dump their waste in the trucks at a specific time in the day. It is used in accessible areas where 8m3 transfer stations are lacking. Trucks should pass 2-3 times per week but because of , it is much less than that.

 2. Block collection. The municipality provides 8m3 refuse containers to clients upon their request. Clients using this type of service are: large hotels, enterprises, institutions. These clients dump their waste in the containers and call the Ronal health office for collection and disposal when the containers are full. Clients are charged 11 Birr/m3 for this service. There are about 100 containers serving the block system in the city (Environmental Health Department, 1997). Even though this is a service for which clients will pay, the municipality is not always capable of answering calls promptly. There is a number of privileged clients (ECA, Ethiopian Airlines, Hilton, etc.) which get rapid service, but other clients complain of delayed response.

 3. Container system: Large 8m3 refuse containers are placed at accessible sites in the kebeles. Residents are expected to carry and dump their waste in the containers. These containers are taken by municipality trucks to the dump site where they are emptied. Currently, there are 516 metallic containers distributed in the city (Environmental Health Department, 1997), with 63% of the existing kebeles having a minimum of 2-3 containers each. Approximately 85% of the waste collected by the municipality is collected through this system.

 The refuse containers serve the community at large, without any direct charge. It is assumed that they will be filled within 3 days, and the objective of the Solid Waste Management Team is to service them every 2-3 days. In places where containers are filled fast, the intention is to have a servicing once or even twice a day. In practice, refuse containers are emptied every 3 weeks on average.

 In 1996 there were 102 trucks for waste collection (Alfonsi, 1997). Not all the trucks are operational. In 1994, only 60% of the trucks were operational, the remaining 40% needed maintenance (UDP, 1994).



In 1996/97, the amount of waste generated per day was an estimated 1 386 m3 of waste are generated per day (Alfonsi, 1997; Assefa Hagos, 1997). The collection coverage rate for solid waste in Addis Ababa is 54% (Assefa Hagos, 1997). This figure will baffle anyone who lives or has walked around in Addis Ababa. Perhaps the discrepancy is due to inconsistencies in statistics. According to the municipality, an while according to a study made by a consultant (UDP, 1994), the amount generated per day is as high as 2 165 m3.


Inefficiency of the system

The present solid waste management system in Addis Ababa relies entirely on the municipality, or more specifically on the Region 14 Health Bureau, which is expected to provide the full range of waste collection and disposal services. This is proving an impossible task, and, except for privileged areas, the services offered are found to be largely inadequate.


Complaints are heard at all levels. When the Region 14 Project Implementation Office wanted to build hard standings for the collection containers, the kebele residents did not accept the facility because they feared that the municipality would badly manage the service (CERFE, 1997c). The same has been experienced in several kebeles and by the NGO which has concretely looked into solutions to the sanitary problems in one of the poorest part of town. The CERFE study (CERFE, 1997a) cites several cases where agreements with the municipality to come and take away the waste was not respected. It is also a common experience that after people are encouraged to participate in a cleaning campaign in their kebele, the waste collected from households and ditches remains accumulated on the side of the road for several days.


Inappropriateness of the system

It is known that the desired walking distance to waste collection points should not exceed 150 m from the housing units, in order for household members, usually women or children, to bring their waste to the collection point. A large majority of households in Addis Ababa live away from accessible roads. For such households, the walking distance to a collection container may reach 0.5-1.00 km. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to carry the waste over such a distance. Clearly, the container system is not adapted to households living in congested areas. Other systems have to be devised to solve the waste collection problem in these areas.


All the equipment used for collecting waste in Addis Ababa comes from industrialised countries, where the waste characteristics, the climate, the existing infrastructures, and the socio-economic context are different from what is found in Ethiopia or in low-income countries in general. It is not surprising, therefore, that the system does not work efficiently once conditions are not the same. The means and mechanisms for collecting and disposing of waste in Addis Ababa should be based on the reality of the city's environment and its socio-economic context, rather than on practices and equipment used in the developed world.


The problem is a complex one, because of the interaction between several components in waste management and because different stakeholders have conflicting interests. To give only one example, the rotating Kuka compacting trucks recently imported by the municipality have lower operational costs, thus decreasing the collection costs. On the other hand, these same trucks affect the livelihood of hundreds of waste pickers and their families because the trucks grind all the waste together, and saleable materials can no longer be recovered.


Contrary to what many appear to believe, it is unlikely that the use of smaller trucks will alleviate the problem of collecting waste. Since one of the major constraints with the present system is its dependency on trucks - because they are costly, break down and do not get repaired quickly - one may reasonably doubt whether the results are going to be much better with smaller trucks and smaller containers. The system would still be highly expensive and rely on the availability of vehicles, petrol, spare parts, and drivers.



5. Duties and responsibilities of the kebeles


It is the responsibility of the kebele to keep its district clean. The kebele administration considers it has the following obligations:

  1. to penalise dwellers caught throwing their waste around the containers;
  2. to take its time to visit the area and observe how dwellers manage to collect their waste;
  3. to conduct a campaign and clean the area, and contact the municipality to empty the bin frequently, and
  4. to construct latrines for those who do not have such facilities.


Kebeles are not in a position to penalise residents for throwing the garbage in ditches and other open spaces, because this is usually done at night or when no one is around.


Services expected from the Health Bureau

 The kebele administration is often confronted with residents complaining about the garbage scattered around the containers, the bad smell and the hazards it poses for the children. It is of the opinion that solid waste collecting containers have to be emptied frequently but has no power to put pressure on the municipality. The door-to-door collection must be on a specific date and time, so that every body will be ready for the services. When there is an urgent call, e.g. if a dead animal or so is observed, there ought to be a response. The kebele administration wishes the kebele health committee (if any) to have a meeting with the Region 14 Health Bureau at least once in a while and discuss the problems.


Major problems of the kebele in connection to waste management

 Asked to list their five major problems, representatives of kebele administration stated that:

  1. Some distant kebeles do not have enough space to put a container, as a result residents are obliged to go to the neighbouring kebeles, and hence walk long distances to dump their wastes.
  2. The collecting skips are not emptied frequently.
  3. People throw their waste in sewers and ditches.
  4. Whenever the area becomes muddy, people do not go close enough to the container, rather they just throw the garbage around the container.
  5. The waste collection trucks only go where there is access road. This means only those people who live along or near the road get the service.


Actions taken to solve these problems

 In an attempt to solve the waste problem in their areas, some kebeles have taken a number of action, including:


  1. Training health inspectors to control any mismanagement. There is penalty for those who disobey.
  2. Planning to make concrete stands for the containers.
  3. Maintenance of the roads inside the kebele.

In general, kebeles suggest that if everybody cleans his/her surrounding, the city will be clean. They believe that a concerned body for waste management has to be created in the kebele. The kebele administration has to support this body and co-operate with its programme. One kebele intends to suggest to the municipality to buy smaller vehicles which can easily move into each corner of the village.


There is a need to conduct a campaign to clean the kebele once or twice a month, including clearing the ditches. Some kebeles have decided to discuss the problem with the community-based organisations, such as iddir, and have an awareness raising program in schools, if there are schools in the vicinity of the kebele.


6. Services offered by the private sector and NGOs

 Out of 118 urban sanitation projects conducted in Addis Ababa by Government agencies and NGOs, only 8 (6.78%) had a component on waste management (CERFE, 1997a). Three of these were NGOs, the others were government projects. None of these projects were from the private sector. In each case, the solid waste management component was limited to the distribution of dust bins to households and/or placing containers in the kebele. Only one (local) NGO has been especially active in seeking solutions to the waste problem in the area where it is working. Several lessons can be learnt from its achievements (see box).

 As to private entrepreneurs, they may deal with excreta disposal, but none of them handles solid waste management.


Disposal of waste


 In Addis Ababa all the solid waste collected by the municipality is brought to a single landfill at Repi. A fee has to be paid to be allowed to dump waste at the site. This means that even if an agency or enterprise would collect the waste in a particular neighbourhood and transport it to Repi, it will still be expected to make a payment, even though it has done the work of the municipality.

 If the waste is known to be hazardous, the Region 14 Health Bureau takes a number of precautions before dumping it at the landfill, including using a specific truck for carrying this type of waste and having it protected by police force, burying and digging waste known to be hazardous, and informing scavengers at Repi of the dangerous nature of the waste. Whatever precautions are taken, they will never completely prevent the scavengers to scratch through the waste in search of something they can eat or sell (Rahel Shiferaw, 1997).


Medical waste

 Medical waste, such as used syringe, soiled bandages and other unwanted materials, is usually burnt. Some clinics have a special incinerator, while others put the waste in a barrel and burn it using kerosene. Expired medicines are also burnt. Some clinics take expired medicines to Zewditu Hospital on a specific date in the year, while the others burn theirs in their own compounds in front of a representative from the Health Bureau and concerned committee members.

 Even so, scavengers at the Repi landfill report that they find different medical waste at the dump (Rahel Shiferaw, 1997). This shows that not all the clinics comply with existing regulations. Especially when amounts of waste to be disposed of are too big, they are dumped at the Repi landfill instead of being burnt in incinerators.



The total expenditure for solid waste management in Addis Ababa does not exceed 5% of the total municipal revenue (Meson Tilaye, 1998). In 1994/95, the municipality spent 5 million birr/year to collect and dispose of 50% of the city's waste (UDP, 1994). Labour accounted for 13% of the costs, while vehicle and plant cost accounted for 79%. Calculated in terms of cost per household, this represents 13 birr/household/ year, or a little over 1.00 birr/household/month, for a total of 374 742 households in Addis Ababa (CSA, 1995). If the average amount per kebele is calculated, the amount spent for each kebele on collection and disposal would be total 16 393 birr/year, or 1 366 birr/month/kebele. This figure is not representative, of course, since it is an average calculation which does not account for kebeles receiving more services and kebeles hardly receive any. It does, however, gives an idea of the budget supposedly necessary for collecting and disposing the waste in one kebele.

 The budget for the city's waste management comes from the central Government. No taxes are levied from households for waste collection, but industries and hotels are charged a fee of 11 birr/m3 of waste collected. In 1994/95, this was a little less than the cost per m3. Today, this does no longer cover the full collection and disposal costs, which is about 20 birr/m3 (Environmental Health Department, 1997). Taking this last cost as a basis, it means that the municipality would need approximately 10 million birr to cover its solid waste collection and disposal costs, which amounts to about 26 birr/household/year or 2.2 birr/household/month.


 7. Waste from industries and institutions

 Industries and institutions have different practices to dispose of their waste, but none of them has any functional waste treatment facility. For many industries and institutions, the waste is handled jointly with domestic waste by the municipality. Factories built along streams and rivers discharge their untreated waste into these water systems, thus adding to the pollution of the river water.

 The waste disposed of by factories is refuse considered to be useless or which the factory or enterprise has no capacity or skill to recycle. For instance, all the waste from the poultry enterprise is buried, even though part of it, such as egg shells and feathers, can be useful. Some tyre factories have heaps of rubber which they do not know how to use or get rid of. These enterprises stated they would welcome expert advice on how these waste could be made profitable.

 When they can, some factories do recover and recycle part of the industrial waste generated during manufacturing:


  1. The by-products (oilseed cakes) of the edible oil processing industries are sold as cattle feed (by-products from cereals) to dairy producers or as fuel (by-products from cotton seed) for injera baking.


  1. At the Addis Ababa Abattoir nowadays, nothing is thrown, except for the digested food from the cattle's stomach and the jaw bone which are too hard to crush. All the other products are processed into useful products.


  1. The plastic factories recycle the waste plastic generated during the production process.


Few institutions have an organised waste disposal system. The ECA has a paper shredder and all the waste paper is shredded and marketed for recycling. At Ethiopian Airlines, the untouched food returned from the aeroplanes is given free to Mother Teresa Charity. All the other waste is ground on the premises of the company and disposed of in bulk by the municipality.



8. Recycling in Merkato



The study on the recycling sector in Merkato is entirely based on the written work done by the operators in the sector themselves.


The operators have had a bad experience with a project that attempted to help them solve their problems. Although the project helped them in several aspects, the major expectations of the operators was not fulfilled. Mainly, they had been expecting to receive micro-credit from the Project, and when this was not forthcoming they became extremely defiant Right from the beginning, we therefore insisted that we did not come to "help" them, but on the contrary that we were looking for their assistance to prepare a document on recycling. We proposed that they would be the ones to prepare the document on the specific recycling activities they were engaged in. We gave the a broad outline of what was to be included in the document, but further than that they were given complete freedom on how and what to write about themselves.


Groups responded positively to this proposal, feeling this was an opportunity for them to express themselves without intermediaries and tell the society whom they are in reality. Two young recyclors, one young man and one young woman, took the responsibility of recording and writing down what the others had to say about themselves and about their work. They were given a photo camera to take pictures for illustration of the written text.


We received papers on Ö recycling. These papers are written in Amharic. The language conveys the messages in such a forceful and imaginative way, that we find it difficult to translate it in English and communicate their ideas as powerfully as in the Amharic text.


The Amharic writings will be published as such (with some editing) and we have used the information to write the section on recycling in the Merkato.



Recovery and recycling

The majority of the households in Addis Ababa are in the low-income bracket and the amount of waste generated is small. Materials are already widely recovered at household level and again by the waste pickers from the bins and trucks. Thus, as far as large-scale recovery is concerned, there is little room for profitable and viable investment.


On the other hand, it could be rewarding in several ways for an industry to invest in small-scale waste recovery: it would save on imports and energy; it would also have a very beneficial effect on the environment.


What happened under the former regime is a case in point. As there was no access to foreign exchange for the purchase of raw material from abroad, more material was recovered and recycled by factories. For instance, plastic was collected throughout the country and brought by truck to the capital city, where it was cleaned - thus providing employment to women - and re-used in the manufacturing process.


Today, access to foreign exchange is made easier, hence factories can import raw material and bother much less to recycle waste material. This is not because they reject the concept of recycling per se, but because it is to their immediate advantage to import material that can directly be used in the manufacturing process, without the need for intermediary upgrading.


A recent study (ENDA-Ethiopia, 1997) has shown that plastic factories would be ready to use recovered waste plastic as long as it comes in a form which they can readily use, i.e. sorted, cleaned and shredded. Many more waste material could be recycled if the machinery and facilities were available. Investment could be oriented towards setting up small enterprises for upgrading waste material that can then be sold to manufacturing industries.


Several enterprises have waste which they do not know how to use or get rid of. For example, more oil can be extracted from cotton waste using a special solvent machine (as already done in Modjo). The oil residue can be used as one of the ingredients in the manufacturing of soap. Likewise, the waste from fruit vendors and juice houses (banana and orange peels), if properly managed, can easily be decomposed to make organic fertiliser.



9. Enabling environment

The Master Plan of Addis Ababa has divided the city into 5 zones, with the last zone being the one located farthest away from the centre of the town. Each zone is divided into 3 grades. The rent paid for land use varies according to the zone and grade of that land. The range of land rent for different uses is given hereunder. The maximum price is for 1st grade land in the 1st zone, the minimum is for 3rd grade land in the 5th zone. The land rent for the recycling sector falls under land rent for business activities. This rent ranges from 4 to 0.80 Birr/m"d, according to the location of the land.