An assessment of municipal solid waste management (MSWM) in informal settlements in eThekwini Municipality : a case study of Cato Crest Informal Settlement, Durban.
Zandamela, Tanya Stephania.
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Waste generated by daily human activities and left to accumulate in ubiquitous, illegal, unregulated dumpsites close to dwellings, is a problem in informal settlements. If not collected and appropriately disposed of, it poses risks to public and environmental health. The quality of life and living conditions of those that already suffer deprivation due to living in informal settlements are further compromised. Waste services provided by local government are generally not adequate in informal settlements. Many municipalities struggle to provide even the most basic services to contain solid waste in these areas due to a lack of infrastructure and financial resources. This study sought to determine the efficacy of current solid waste management in enhancing living conditions in informal settlements in eThekwini Municipality. The functionalism theory, neoliberalism theory, and communicative planning theory provided the theoretical background for the study and enabled an understanding of the role of different stakeholders in the management of solid waste in informal settlements. The study employed qualitative research methods, consisting of interviews and participant observation. It established that inhabitants of informal settlements cannot afford to pay for waste management services, nor are they willing to do so. The study found that the main barrier to effective municipal solid waste management and healthy living conditions in informal settlements is a lack of political will and stakeholder accountability in the solid waste management process, as well as the exclusion of these settlements from the provision of formal basic sanitary services. Another key determining factor is prevailing attitudes to solid waste management. To change this mind-set, community members need to be educated on the dangers that inadequate waste management pose to human and environmental well-being. Participation and strong partnerships between different interest groups have been found to be part of the solution to this problem and should be encouraged for effective solid waste management in informal settlements.