Paticipatory Solid Waster Management A Proposal for Jamaica's Informal Settlements
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On March 11, 2015, the Riverton City Dump, the largest dump in Jamaica started to burn; by March 16th the Kingston Fire Brigade said that the entire 31.25-hectare facility was ablaze. During the estimated 2 weeks that the dump burned the Ministry of Health stated that over 800 people across three different parishes visited hospitals for respiratory-related complications and schools and business in the area were forced to close. The landfill receives over 60% of the nationally collected solid waste, on a site without an impermeable-lined base layer, without surface covering and without frequent compaction of waste. Since 2007, an estimated 2406.4 tonnes of unmonitored waste was added to the dump daily. Sporadic burning of wastes from spontaneous combustion has not been uncommon. The historic March incident brought national attention to the woefully inadequate management of the landfill and the unpreparedness of government agencies to handle environmental and health crises, and started a public discourse on the future of the landfill. Concern about Riverton was intensified because of the landfill's proximity to densely populated urban areas, industry, and commerce. Despite this, however, the issues and concerns are not unique to Riverton but prevalent throughout all the dumps and landfills across the island. What was missing from the public discourse was a comprehensive examination of the national solid waste management strategy, particularly waste generation, disposal patterns and trends within the context of a developing country confined by its small island boundaries. Consequently, this applied research project seeks to provide a critical analysis of the solid waste management sector in Jamaica and the environmental and socioeconomic implications, and to propose a series of decentralized recommendations for communities that are chronically underserved by municipal solid waste management providers. While the discipline of solid waste management seeks to address all possible sources of solid waste generation, disposal and all the processes that occur between; this paper focuses on the management of waste prior to landfill disposal. It is important to note that the state of landfills is only symptomatic of the larger solid waste context, hence the scope of the analysis will encompass processes that occur prior to landfilling, such as waste collection, separation, and reuse.