Plastic waste is a major problem in the slums bordering Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city. Water sachets (commonly used as drinking containers in the country), empty bottles and jerrycans litter the streets and clog up drains, causing flooding in disaster-prone areas.
Sierra Leone is among the top most vulnerable countries to climate change, and with an average rainfall of 3,600 litres (the equivalent of about 18 bathtubs) per square metre per year, flooding affects the country on a recurrent basis.
The devastating flash flooding and landslide that killed thousands in Freetown in August 2017 illustrates how the accumulation of plastics in drainage systems, compounded by poor city planning, exacerbates the problem. Last year’s flooding displaced 5,000 slum dwellers in Freetown alone and caused significant financial losses.
Plastic waste also poses public health issues, as blocked drainage causes water to stagnate and mosquitoes to breed in a region where malaria is endemic. In times of floods, water contaminated by mud and waste is washed into open drinking water wells and can lead to disease.
There is no waste transfer center in Freetown, nowhere to sort garbage and separate what can be used for compost or recycling.
It costs 2,000 Leones to dispose of a rice bag of garbage, says UNDP’s Thorsten Kallnischkies, Geologist and Waste Management Expert.
Kallnischkies, who has worked on almost 200 dumpsites around the world, says recycling and removing garbage from the cities' overflowing drains saves people's money, while also tackling youth unemployment.
CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://stories.undp.org/solving-freetowns-waste-problem