Why Integrated Solid Waste Management is so elusive – learning from Africa and Asia

Research output: Other contribution


Integrated solid waste management is an internationally recognised and favoured principle and approach to handle the whole life cycle of municipal waste. It encourages authorities to consider all practices, sources, streams, technologies, financial flows and actors involved or impacting on the generation, collection, transport, sorting, storage, treatment, recovery and disposal of solid waste. Yet, despite the vast body of knowledge and widespread support for this approach, cities from the Global South struggle with its implementation. Based on case studies from Pakistan (Karachi and Faisalabad) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), this paper explores the reasons underpinning this struggle. Our findings show that the challenges extend well beyond the availability of the requisite financial and human resources. Given the local authorities’ inability to deal with the ever-increasing demand, residents in these cities have historically taken matters into their own hands. Reforming these waste management systems will require the recognition of this work and the integration of established – and often highly effective – networks of informal providers. Furthermore, shifting these systems onto a path of sustainability will not simply hinge on legislative change and the deployment of new technological solutions. Waste management and waste work is inherently political. Without governance solutions connecting the various actors and acknowledging their traditions and expectations, technical solutions are likely to fail.
Original languageEnglish
TypeWorking paper
PublisherLSE Cities Working Papers Series
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Structured keywords

  • SPS Children and Families Research Centre


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