THE Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has recognised the urgent need to improve solid waste management in Namibia and as a result created the National Solid Waste Management Strategy to reduce risks to the environment and public health from current waste disposal sites and illegal dumping in many areas of Namibia.
In this regard the Walvis Bay Municipality hosted the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta for the fifth meeting of the National Solid Waste Management Advisory Panel to discuss pertinent issues of waste management currently facing the country.
Mr. Shifeta said at the panel discussion that the MET is concerned about the impact of poor waste management practices on the environment and public health.
“There is a lack of waste collection in many areas such as at informal settlements within the urban areas and in rural areas or settlements under Regional Councils. There are so many problems with litter along our roads, even in our National Parks and in many other areas. This has a negative impact on tourism and the image of the country and is a health hazard for our people,” he said.
According to Shifeta MET found that the highest priority problem is at waste disposal sites which are not properly managed.
“At these sites, there is open burning of waste, often no operational management, no fencing, no segregation of waste and potential serious impacts through contamination of soil, air and groundwater resources and even loss of life to waste pickers and scavengers,” he said.
Since the regulations of the Environmental Management Act were gazetted in 2012, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has been engaging Local Authorities, Regional Councils and local industry to improve standards of waste management and to ensure that all waste disposal sites apply for and are issued with environmental clearance certificates and that standards of management of waste disposal sites are improved.
The minister announced that under the National Solid Waste Management Strategy the first 11 waste disposal sites were officially declared asbeing up to the required standard. Besides Walvis Bay the minister announced the other sites that have been approved as waste dispoasal sites are: The Kupferberg Windhoek Landfill in Khomas Region, Epukiro Dumpsite in Omaheke Region, Oshakati Dumpsite in Oshana Region, Okahao Dumpsite in Omusati Region, Rundu Dumpsite in Kavango East Region, Oranjemund Dumpsite in //Kharas Region, Ruacana Dumpsite in Omusati Region, Tsandi Dumpsite in Omusati Region, Eheke Dumpsite in Oshana Region and the Ondangwa Dumpsite in Oshana Region.
“I am announcing here today that these authorities have followed the due procedures in applying for environmental clearance certificates, which they have duly received. Inspections have also been undertaken to these waste disposal sites, and it has been determined that they are in compliance with their approved Environmental Management Plans and the conditions of their environmental clearance certificates. I commend all Mayors, Chief Executive Officers and responsible staff from the respective Local Authorities for these efforts.”
He said the MET will however continue to monitor levels of compliance with their respective Environmental Management Plans and are in the process of bringing more detailed regulations on waste management, which will include standards and guidelines to assist Local Authorities to ensure the environmentally sound management and disposal of waste.
According to Mr. Sifeta the standards and guidelines have been designed to be practical and their implementation in many cases does not require huge levels of investment to ensure that the correct standards are adhered to.
He was of the opinon that the majority of Local Authorities need to urgently address the lack of human resources and capacity at waste disposal sites and need to invest in basic technologies so that waste is handled effectively and in an environmentally sound manner.
“In many settlements and in areas outside the jurisdiction of Local Authorities, there is often a complete absence of formal facilities for waste disposal. I have tasked the National Solid Waste Management Advisory Panel to look into solutions into this matter in line with the National Solid Waste Management Strategy.”
Mr. Shifeta said it no coincidence that made the announcement in Erongo Region.
“This Region has shown itself to be a leader in raising the standards of waste disposal. We have seen today how well the Walvis Bay waste disposal site is being managed. I am planning to shortly gazette a further five waste disposal sites, four of which are found here in Erongo Region. I would like to commend the political leadership here in the region on this excellent progress.”
The minister urged all other Local Authorities to apply for environmental clearance certificates for their waste disposal sites and to implement environmental management plans to ensure that their facilities are better managed.