In June 2022, the University of Stirling (UK) SPACES team travelled to Blantyre, Malawi and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to meet with local project partners to discuss the project’s progress and visit key field sites.
The trip to Malawi included visits to informal settlements, both urban and rural, to understand their contrasting challenges to plastic waste management. It also included a meeting with Blantyre City Council to discuss the challenges of waste management on a larger, city-wide scale.
In many low-income African countries, solid waste management is a major challenge; and it is estimated that only 46 % of municipal solid waste is collected, the remainder being burned or dumped . A report by Blantyre City Council revealed that in 2016 a mere 19.8 % of total waste in Blantyre was collected (59,130/ 298,750 tonnes) .
Left: dumped waste in Ndirande, Blantyre
In Tanzania, the UK team were able to visit numerous sites along the length of the Msimbazi River, Dar Es Salaam, contrasting water quality with changing human and environmental pressures. Additionally, this included a field visit to the Pugu Kinyamwezi dumpsite, pictured below. Pugu Kinyamwezi was originally planned as a sanitary landfill, but has since turned into an open dumpsite and is the only authorised dumpsite serving Dar Es Salaam .
Formal recycling networks are uncommon in low-income countries; however, there is often a market for recyclable materials such as plastics and metals. Informal waste pickers can make a livelihood out of collecting and selling these materials to recycling companies; however, they often work with little or no PPE, exposing themselves to harmful chemicals and microorganisms. The SPACES Project aims to understand the risk of plastic waste in vectoring pathogenic microorganisms, and investigate measures to help minimise this risk.
 Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata (2012). What a Waste : A Global Review of Solid Waste Management. Urban development series. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/17388.
 Blantyre City Council (2016). Integrated Solid Waste Management. Blantyre City Council, Blantyre, Malawi. WA 021. https://regions20.org/projects/wa-021/
 Yhdego (2017). From sanitary landfill to a dump site: Pugu kinyamwezi community curse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Environmental Resources Consultancy. 10.13140/RG.2.2.27828.04483