Waste to Wealth Cameroon

The Waste to Wealth programme ran from 2010-2015 and worked with entrepreneurs, local government and slum dwellers living in Cameroon, Uganda, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to help improve  waste management whilst creating new jobs and income generating opportunities.

The programme was funded by the European Union, the UK Government’s Department for International Development and Comic Relief.

Some of the impacts of the programme include the following:
·      840 new jobs created in the waste recycling sector
·      60,000 slum dwellers with improved waste collection services
·      Economic growth in the recycling sector, with average 15-30% profit increases per enterprise
·      7000 people making an income from waste recycling streams
·      19 public private partnerships signed with local government

Details of the programme’s approach and activities can be found below.

Living Earth Foundation’s ‘Waste to Wealth‘ project is responding to the urgent need to improve the lives of the increasing number of impoverished and vulnerable people residing in urban slum areas in Douala (Cameroon), Port Harcourt (Nigeria) and Kampala (Uganda). Living Earth is working in partnership with its local partners in these three countries to deliver this three-year, multi-country Urban Waste project.

Project Aim

The project is creating a virtuous circle wherein slum dwellers in nine urban areas in the cities of Port Harcourt (Nigeria), Douala (Cameroon) and Kampala (Uganda), take responsibility for collecting and managing household solid waste, instead of sending this off to landfills. Social ventures and micro-enterprises are currently overseeing the process of sorting waste, recycling and reuse.

The project is ensuring environmental sanitation improvements are being sustained, with subsequent benefits in the health and well being of  slum inhabitants. The project is fostering the emergence of a skilled and effective business sector wherein social enterprises, founded by and in poor urban communities, are deriving wealth from the provision of environmental services and derivative recycling and re-use activities. The waste is therefore becoming the catalyst for their income generation and creating employment opportunities.

Programme Background

For the first time in history, over half of the world’s population live in urban areas. Urbanisation is expected to increase significantly; particularly within sub-Saharan Africa where the urban population is forecast to double between 2000 and 2030. Over  70% of this urban population live in slum conditions, contending with underemployment, low household income and widespread abject poverty.

The growth in population is placing an increasing demand on the urban environment; there is the same amount of land but more people, the same number of toilets but more human waste, more rubbish but less space to dispose of it. Widespread poor solid waste management creates an array of associated health problems and poses a threat to surface and groundwater quality.

The onus for managing the physical environment in poor areas remains with the communities themselves; if they do not address the problems of household waste, poor public sanitation, clogged and disease-spreading drainage, no-one will do it for them.

Expected Results

  1. Sustained environmental sanitation improvement with subsequent benefits in the health and well-being of the inhabitants in the nine target communities, through improved service provision as a result of partnerships with Local Governments, private sector and civil society
  2. The emergence of a skilled and effective business sector wherein social enterprises, founded by and in poor urban communities, derive wealth from the provision of environmental services and derivative recycling and re-use activities
  3. The role of women in the sector will be promoted
  4. Improved stakeholder awareness including amongst policy-makers, on the rights and entitlement of poor urban dwellers to a clean environment and of the potential to harness local cost-effective resources to deliver these
  5. Enhanced capacity amongst Local Authorities to engage in public-private partnership (PPP) development, particularly with the less formal private sector. Strengthening managerial, technical and organisational abilities of Municipalities and addressing statutory limitations, will play a vital part in achieving this result
  6. Improved South-South linkages and networking between partners and associates to increase learning, information dissemination, consensus building and advocacy skills to influence policy makers.
  7. Scaling up of the approach and methodology to other urban centres within the three target countries

A Mid-Term Review of the project, completed in June 2013, identified a number of areas where the programme has excelled. These include 7 public-Private partnerships achieved in Uganda between SMEs and local councils; within Uganda and Cameroon, existing and emerging SME businesses dealing with environmental sanitation and waste management have been supported to improve their effectiveness, to increase their incomes and business effectiveness; some of whom have seen increased profits of between 20-30%, demonstrating the value in waste and recycling, which has improved waste disposal practice and encouraged recycling to be carried out at household levels in all three countries. Improving the urban communities environmental sanitation in all three countries through clean-up activities and household waste recycling, has had a positive impact on the health of these communities.

In Cameroon and Uganda the W2W progress has harnessed the energy of existing SMEs to rethink their business plans and approaches, enabling them to make significant business and market developments and improve their profits by between 15-30% and support SMEs to develop the supply chains for recycling. Much of this success can be attributed to the accredited training programme in business development; through the African Urban Enterprise Development programme. The programme was developed between Living Earth Foundation and the Open College Network London and through a series of structured workshops, has been developing and enhancing the capacity of SMEs.

To read about how the Waste to Wealth programme has been benefiting SMEs, you can read some case studies here. For further information on the Project, please visit the dedicated Waste to Wealth project website.

 Project Activities

  • Support 18 micro-projects delivering environmental sanitation services to poor urban residents, implemented by social venture groups and micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in partnership with local authorities
  • Build capacity amongst 120 micro and small enterprises run by poor urban slum dwellers
  • Provide business training to 90 poor urban entrepreneurs
  • Provide functional livelihoods skills training to 600 urban slum dwellers
  • Raise awareness on the right to a clean environment among slum dwellers
  • Support residents’ and vulnerable people’s groups to advocate for rights for a clean urban environment
  • Provide advocacy training and support to 180 urban community leaders
  • Ensure available information resources on urban environmental rights for up to 210,000 slum dwellers
  • Deliver partnership training to 90 Local Authority officials
  • Provide capacity building in project management for 9 councils addressing urban slum problems
  • Develop South-south dialogue between Nigeria, Cameroon and Uganda and information sharing
  • Instigate networking platforms for cross-fertilisation and exchange
  • Facilitate 9 seminars on urban environment and poverty
  • Facilitate 3 National conferences on the urban environment
  • Publish Public-Private Partnerships toolkits and awareness raising materials

Project Funding

The programme is funded by the European Commission and Comic Relief.

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Living Earth Foundation and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

EC logo