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Some good practices applied by the city of Yaounde for waste management

I- Context

The overall increasing and uncontrolled level of urbanisation in the cities of Cameroon and that of Yaounde in particular, has led to an exponential growth in urban populations. The growth of urban population in Yaounde and the evolution of lifestyles and consuming habits automatically increase the generation of municipal waste by 5% each year (Almeida & al., 2016). Yaounde produces around 1800 tons of waste per day, being around 700 000 tons yearly (Bole Soua, 2018). Most of this waste (solid, liquid, gaseous) is caused by 75% of households, 20% of public services and economic activities and 5% of market places (Ibid). Despite measures taken by the government, waste management is far from satisfactory. This article presents on the one hand, hygiene and sanitation problems experienced in Yaounde, and on the other, highlights some effective good practices by adapting them to the local context of its municipalities.

II- Problems faced from urban waste management in Yaounde

Some of the causes of hygiene and sanitation problems observed in the city of Yaounde are:

  • Rapid population growth: Yaounde's population increase rate is estimated at 4.5% yearly. Its population increased from 3 525 664 inhabitants in 2010 (BUCREP, 2010) to 4 100 000 in 2021 due to its administrative, academic and economic functions and most of all, to its massive influx of internally displaced persons coming from other regions;

  • Spatial expansion caused by population growth: As a result of its population growth, Yaounde has undergone much more uncontrolled expansion than planned, with the advancement of urbanisation fronts and the establishment of new neighborhoods, therefore making it difficult to collect household waste (Moussinga & Epoh, SD);

  • Very limited and disjointed road network: This city has very few good roads and the existing ones are unevenly distributed. Most of the neighborhoods have very narrow, unpaved roads and tracks that make it difficult to access them;

  • Lack of a waste disposal system: One of the greatest challenges faced by urban authorities is collecting household waste. These challenges are reflected in the accumulation of household waste and the creation of several illegal dumps. The absence of functional structures for the collection and disposal of household waste in the city of Yaounde leads to uncontrolled dumping in streets and waterways (Messi, 2015);

  • Lack of sewage systems: The population discharges 82.8% of domestic wastewater produced in the open air. Roads, gutters and yards are where 66.3% of wastewater is received and this leads to permanent blackish water flows on the ground and the stagnation of unhealthy water in most neighbourhoods of Yaounde. In poor areas, unfinished latrines are equipped with a pipe to evacuate excreta and are emptied into nature or waterways (ECAM III, 2007);

  • Insufficient financial resources: Municipalities often face challenges in collecting the necessary budget for waste management due to the low collection rate of rubbish tax and property tax. On the other hand, private actors are barely paid, while facing high operational costs due to logistical difficulties ingrained in Yaounde's turbulent development.

III- Some good practices applied for urban waste management in Yaounde

Waste management, regardless of its nature, remains a serious challenge faced by municipalities. In order to ensure Yaounde's resilience and sustainability in accordance with SDG11 and SDG12 of the 2030 Agenda, it is crucial to promote certain actions. Some of the following BPs have been observed:

  • Existence of an environmental framework law to improve waste management: In Cameroon, several laws and decrees have been established to reduce the negative impact that waste has on the environment and on the population's health;

  • Contribution of the informal sector to improve waste collection and management: In Yaounde, the collection of metal waste such as steel, aluminum, lead... is mainly done by scrap metal collectors who go from house to house, scouring through streets, garages, building and public works sites, waste bins, etc. in order to collect or receive these metal waste. These informal sector activities help municipalities to improve their recycling rates and reduce the volumes of waste sent to landfill (Djoussi & al., 2012);

  • Composting in order to improve waste management: Composting allows the recycling and transformation of organic waste. The compost produced (soil improvers and fertilisers) and made available to farmers improves soil quality. It can save up 25% to 50% of chemical fertilisers and increase agricultural yields by up to 30% (Sudhakar, 2012). This technique is the most recommended because most of the waste is biodegradable;

  • Considering the construction of consolidation centres and a review of the waste management system (WMS): The construction and the review, which should integrate pre-collection, are necessary. They are enclosures of about 1000 m², used for the storage of waste and for sorting and composting operations. In this way, the problems linked to the pollution of plots of land are under control, and the recovered and recycled waste (compost in particular) is made available directly and at a lower cost to farmers. This also allows the state to make huge savings in transporting waste to the controlled landfill of Nkolfoulou (Sotamenou, 2010).

Some references

Almeida, Onilvanda M., Oliveira, Euzébio. (2016). "Action gestion participative des déchets solide municipale dans Marapanim/Pará". - Des connaissances scientifiques de base multidisciplinaire Magazine, 1 year. Vol. 5, p. 5-23.

BUCREP, (2010). "Rapport de présentation des résultats définitifs du recensement au Cameroun. Bureau Central des Recensements et des Etudes de Population". Yaounde, p. 68.

Bole Soua., (2018). "La problématique de la gestion des déchets dans la ville de Yaoundé - Cameroun : état des lieux et perspectives".

Messi Bedzigui G., A. (2015). "Gestion des déchets ménagers solides dans la ville de Monatele", University of Maroua, p. 205.

Moussinga & Epoh, (SD). "La gestion des ordures ménagères et leurs impacts sur l’environnement cas de la ville de Yaoundé", CODEV, Cameroon.

Ngambi R. j. (2015). "Déchets solides ménagers de la ville de Yaoundé (Cameroun) : de la gestion linéaire vers une économie circulaire". Géography. University of Maine. French. ffNNT: 2015LEMA3001ff. fftel-01262368f

Sudhakar, Y., (2012). "Replication of urban innovations – prioritization of strategies for the replication of Dhaka’s community-based decentralized composting mode", Waste Management & Research Volume 30, issue 1 January 2012. p. 20-31.

Sotamenou, J. & Parrot, L. (2005). "Les déterminants de la récupération et du recyclage des déchets ménagers dans les bas-fonds de Yaoundé au Cameroun", University of Yaounde II – Soa, p. 160.

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