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Analysis of hazardous waste management policy and its implementation in South Africa

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The primary aim of the research study was to investigate the regulation and implementation of Hazardous Waste Management policy in South Africa, with particular focus in policy implementation problems in the South Durban Basin of the eThekwini Municipality. The South Durban Basin is a geographical area in the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal where communities live in close proximity to one of South Africa's busiest intense industrial base. The findings revealed that communities in the South Durban Basin face harmful public and environmental health impacts which have been proven to be caused by polluted air as a result of weak hazardous waste management policy implementation. The study demonstrates that the implementation of hazardous waste management policy in the South Durban Basin is characterized by policy gaps, lack of enforcement capacity and resources of local government to effectively implement the policy. The lack of capacity and resources has made compliance on environmental regulations insignificant. Current compliance on hazardous waste management and environmental policy regulations is happening on a purely voluntary and self­-regulatory basis and it proven to be ineffective. The study also showed that to realise efficacy in the management of hazardous waste management, a combination of both top-down and bottom-up approaches to policy implementation is crucial. The reason being that a top-down national framework ensures consistency in a national policy framework while the bottom-­up approach promotes elements of community participation and empowerment as is evident in the South Durban communities. A key finding of the study is the significance of community activity and pressure in the making and implementation of hazardous waste management policy. It illustrates the significance of networks in the policymaking and implementation process. The involvement and partnerships formed by different environmental justice organizations availed operational capacity and resources to engage the eThekwini Municipality to take action on issues of hazardous air pollution. The challenge remains for the eThekwini Municipality to find methods to attain economic development and simultaneously protect its citizens and the environment. This raises a question, whether sustainable development can be a reality where there is lack of capacity and resources to actualize it. Does economic development have to be achieved at the expense of the general public and the environment?


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.