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WasteAid in The Gambia

My Magazine 2022/07
3 min
At WasteAid, we work with communities and policy-makers in low and middle-income countries to implement waste management and recycling programmes. Our work improves the livelihoods of some of the poorest and most marginalised, promotes circular economy innovation and contributes to a cleaner and healthier future for all.

The dumping and burning of waste causes the spread of disease, pollutes land, air and water sources, and contributes to climate change. WasteAid promotes and shares locally appropriate, evidence-based and inclusive waste management practices, supporting and empowering others to take positive action.

WasteAid has been working in The Gambia since 2015, supporting the development of sustainable waste and resource management initiatives. Through waste collection and recycling programmes, waste can be diverted from dumpsites and the environment and used to make products of value.

Our work contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals:

Working with a variety of local partners, WasteAid has studied the waste being generated by Gambian citizens to understand its composition and identify intervention points to reduce waste arisings, develop approaches to recycle wastes into useful products like paving tiles and compost, and improve the health and safety of people working with waste.

Turning flexible plastics into construction products

Soft, flexible plastics are commonly used for bags and wrap. When dumped in the environment, these plastics can cause harm to wildlife and livestock. Soft plastics also block drainage channels, making flooding worse for affected communities. If burned, they release emissions that can damage people’s health (particularly children’s health) and contribute to climate change. WasteAid delivered a UK Aid funded project in the coastal village of Gunjur, training local people to turn flexible plastic wastes into construction products like paving tiles and roof tiles. Within the first 3 months of the project, the team diverted 1 million plastic bags from the environment.

Composting food waste to reduce climate emissions and build climate resilience

When food waste is disposed of at dumpsites it can cause a nuisance, attract vermin, and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In 2020, WasteAid and Kanifing Municipal Council launched a partnership project funded by the EU Global Climate Change Alliance Plus initiative. Through this project, food waste is being collected from markets in Kanifing Municipality and transferred to local women’s gardens where many of the crops are grown. Here, the gardeners are turning the organic material into compost which will reduce reliance on chemical fertilisers and increase crop yield, building climate resilience.


Building a Circular Economy in The Gambia

In 2022, WasteAid launched a new initiative in partnership with the UK’s Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), to improve public health, reduce pollution, and support circular economy innovation in The Gambia through sustainable waste and recycling practices, and support to livelihoods and innovation that can contribute to the national green recovery strategy.

A Circular Economy Network is established in the West Coast Region of the Gambia, incorporating stakeholders with a focus on waste and recycling. This assists with regional and cross-sector cooperation, to help Government Ministries, Councils, businesses and community-based organisations work together to progress sustainable waste management in The Gambia.

The Circular Economy Network seeks to raise the profile of waste management and sustainable waste management solutions in The Gambia and provide a platform for national stakeholders and waste managers in the UK to collaborate.

The aim of this initiative is to establish a professional network of people and organisations in The Gambia who can support each other in the development of a circular economy, and is sustained after the project completes.

A pilot circular economy project will also be financed, and network members are currently being invited to submit proposals for the “Waste to Use” challenge which is aiming to reduce and or recycle plastics, tyres and organic wastes before July 31st 2022. The winning submission will be supported by WasteAid to trial and promote a circular economy innovation with social benefit.

The aim of the pilot project is to showcase the potential for sustainable waste management in The Gambia.

A sustainable waste and recycling initiative will be developed that provides livelihood opportunities for 30 vulnerable people. This will form another pillar of The Gambia’s developing recycling sector, diverting waste from disposal and demonstrating the value in recovered resources.

A communications campaign will be rolled out in The Gambia and the UK to raise awareness of the partnership, activities and outcomes.

WasteAid welcomes all interested parties to join the Circular Economy Network.


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