Domestic and Refugee Camp Waste Management Collection and Disposal | Waste Management | Landfill

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This technical briefing note deals with the handling and disposal of solid waste from refugee camps and in domestic environments in the immediate period following an emergency. Crowded conditions and the uncontrolled burning of waste within these environments present serious risks health and to safety. Poor waste management practices also create additional environmental risks, affecting the poorest and most marginalised sectors of the community.
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  Domestic and Refugee Camp Waste Management Collection & Disposal This Technical Brief looks at the importance of effective solid waste management in emergency situations from a health and environmental point of view. Waste Management in Natural and Man-made Disasters This technical briefing note deals with the handling and disposal of solid waste from refugee camps and in domestic environments in the immediate period following an emergency. Crowded conditions and the uncontrolled burning of waste within these environments present serious risks health and to safety. Poor waste management practices also create additional environmental risks, affecting the poorest and most marginalised sectors of the community. Disasters have also an impact on the authorities that would normally be responsible for solid waste collection and disposal. This may include loss of staff, being overstretched and they are likely to be already under-funded and under resourced. In refugee camp environments there is often a lack of clarity of who is responsible for the collection and disposal of solid waste. The NGO undertaking water, sanitation and hygiene promotion in the camp, for example Oxfam, will often be tasked with the responsibility of managing solid waste. In immediate post disasters situations there is often an increase in heavily packaged goods resulting from the relief efforts and associated supplies and equipments. This generally results in an increase in waste generation typically in plastics and metals. It should also be noted that poor solid waste management is often a problem that increases after the immediate response period as more resources and people are made available during the emergency. Initiating good solid waste management practices during the initial response period can help in installing good practice which can be continue post emergency. Risks from the Absence of Solid Waste Management In the absence of formal or proper waste management strategy and support, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) are likely to resort to burning or burying their waste in an uncontrolled manner. This will often be found to be undertaken on the edge of camps or just outside. Burning of waste in such a manner does not effectively break down all the waste, often leaving organic materials, which are high in water content, semi-burnt and continuing to decompose. Glass and metals will also remain presenting an on-going waste hazard.  Additionally, low temperature burning of plastics results in gas emissions, which are hazardous to health and to the environment. This can be exacerbated by waste being burnt close to homes due to lack of equipment to remove it from these areas. Risks associated with poor solid waste management: ã Fly breeding within waste, flies are diseasetransporting vectors; ã Mosquitoes breed in blocked drains and discardedcans, tyres and other items, mosquitoes are vectorsfor malaria, dengue, lymphatic filariasis and yellowfever amongst others; ã Rats find shelter and food in waste, they live andbreed in and around waste, and are again a diseasetransporting vector; ã Heaps of refuse may present a fire risk  ã Open burning of waste causes air pollution and gasemissions which are hazardous to health and theenvironment; ã Uncontrolled dumping of waste can create dust andfungi containing aerosols which can causerespiratory health problems; ã Items such as broken glass, razors, hypodermicneedles, potentially explosive containers, etc presentin waste pose danger to those handling the wasteand to children; ã Leachate (polluted water) from rain washingthrough dumped waste can pollute water supplies; ã Waste ends up in drains, causing blockages andflooding; ã Psychological and aesthetic nuisance from waste interms of smell and appearance.The uncontrolled burying of waste usually does not take into consideration where the waste is being buried. Possible impacts on the environment and on groundwater resources are rarely considered, potentially resulting in OXFAM Technical Brief – Domestic and Refugee Camp Waste Management Collection and Disposal 1  ponds and pools with floating waste which presents a nuisance and a point of pollution and contamination of shallow wells and water sources. Focus in dealing with solid waste management is to minimise the risk to the health and safety of inhabitants of IDP camps, visitors and surrounding communities and to consider the impact on the immediate and wider environment. Waste Hierarchy There is a hierarchy of approaches to solid waste management that should be considered. However, effective solid waste management requires a balanced approach which takes into account the specific circumstances of the IDP camp or permanent settlement. In a emergency situation an approach should be taken that eliminates immediate risks to health and safety first, for example, removing waste which presenting an immediate risk to health and the environmental and appropriately disposing of it, is more important than setting up householder composting bins Fractions (Characteristics) of Waste in Emergencies Waste from settlements and refugee camps will vary widely in composition and quantity, according to the amount and type of economic activity, the staple foods consumed and local practices of recycling and/or waste disposal. Typical constituents of solid waste may include the following: ã Packaging from emergency supplies, e.g. plasticwater bottles, cardboard boxes, cans ã Waste containing excreta, for example the flyinglatrine following the tsunami in Indonesia wherefaecal material was disposed of in plastic bags ã Organic waste and food waste ã Non-organic wastes, such as metals, glass andplastics ã Hazardous wastes such as asbestos (includingasbestos roof sheeting), chemicals, hydrocarbons,medicals wastes(including additional medical wastesassociated with emergency supplies), etc. ã Wastes generated from the disaster itself, such assludge, debris, bodies, etc (disaster waste is dealtwith in a separate Technical Brief Note (TBN 17)). Problem Areas  Areas that are prone to uncontrolled and indiscriminate dumping of solid waste should be identified. Such areas are likely to include: ã Drains which then get blocked, ã Small pits and holes near to dwellings, ã The area surrounding a market, which will set upwithin any displaced population or refugee camp, ã In pit latrines particularly, if the people are not givenspecific disposal sites, ã Passageways in spaces in between shelters. Waste Audit To determine whether solid waste presents a risk and what activities Oxfam can carryout to reduce this risk, a rapid audit of solid waste should be undertaken. Observations and discussions with the population, authorities, etc should be undertaken and the following questions considered: ã What are the waste streams? o Is there a solid waste problem? o How do people dispose of their solid waste? o What is the composition and quantities of wasteproduced? o Can solid waste be disposed on site or does itneed to be collected and disposed off site? ã What are the existing problems? o  Are there any existing waste management,collection and disposal processes in operation?How does this operate and is it appropriate todevelop and expand upon these? Photo: Example of Solid Waste Blocking Storm Water Drain in Accra, Ghana   The waste hierarchy Waste Reduction & MinimisationWaste Reuse / Repair Recycling / Composting Landfill/Burial/Incineration OXFAM Technical Brief – Domestic and Refugee Camp Waste Management Collection and Disposal 2  o  Are there medical facilities and activities producingwaste? How are these disposed of and who isresponsible? o Is mass burial of human bodies and animalsrequired? o  Are insects and vectors causing a nuisance? o Is there evidence of increased morbidity, whichcan be linked to poor waste managementpractices? ã Who are the external agencies involved in wastemanagement? What are their roles and responsibilitiesand have these changed as a result of the emergencysituation? A significant part of the audit can be undertaken by refugee camp residents or householders, such as identifying where camp waste is piling up, the sources and reasons why waste is being disposed of, e.g. material excess, packaging from relief supplies, etc. Minimum Standards Many countries will have their own standards and legal requirements governing waste management, and it is important to consult with the local authorities to ensure these standards and legal requirements are respected. Community Involvement   It is essential that in undertaking any solid waste management activities that community participation is central to planning, design and implementation. Involving the community will assist in identifying what normal practice is, developing preferred options for waste collection, in developing public health and other messages associated with waste management. The requirements of men, women, young people, children, and those with special needs and disabilities in relation to solid waste management will be different. In consulting with the community it will be important the men and women are both consulted and their needs and requirements identified. For example, women will largely responsible for household and family waste management, while men may be involved (paid or unpaid) as waste loaders or in waste collection roles. Waste pickers In many communities individuals are already involved informally in waste picking and recycling waste items, as they have a resale value. In developing a waste management strategy, it’s important to ensure such individuals are consulted and included in project implementation. Any existing salvaging and waste picking should be protected and an integral part of any new waste management system. Waste Management Options Remember the four R’s ã Reduce ã Re-use ã Repair ã RecycleThe approaches described below are in order of most to least desirable and reflects the priorities as set out in the waste hierarchy. However, as mentioned above the priority in an emergency should be for immediate health and safety. It should also be recognised that even with active pursuit of the 4Rs there will always be some element of waste residual, which will require proper disposal. Waste reduction This involves the reduction of waste generated and will include raising awareness and influencing the behaviour of those living in camps. It will be important that beneficiaries are engaged and take a lead in the process. Once the source of waste is identified discussions need to take place on how the waste can be reduced. Messages need to be developed so people are aware of how they can be involved in reducing waste generation. For example, agencies bringing in relief materials for those living in the camps can check to see if it is possible to either make packaging more eco-friendly, or alternatively source goods that require little or no packaging.  Example: In some countries a stigma is attached to wastehandling and it is expected that only certain groups,such as sweepers will handle the waste. This was thecase following the earthquake emergency in Pakistanin 2005. Here it proved difficult to engage thegeneral population in clearing refuse. Clearing refuse,as well as cleaning of public toilets, are generallytasks assigned to a group of people who areconsidered at the bottom of the social scale andknown as ‘sweepers’. The people whose job meansthat they were known as ‘sweepers’ did an excellentob in response to the emergency, but it meant thatinvolving volunteers in the cleaning of communalrefuse or latrines proved difficult. Sphere standards:  Key indicators ã People from the affected population areinvolved in the design and implementation of the solid waste programme ã Household waste is put in containers daily forregular collection, burnt or buried in aspecified refuse pit ã  All households have access to a refusecontainer and/or are no more than 100meters from a communal refuse pit ã  At least one 100-litre container is availableper 10 families where domestic refuse is notburied on site ã Refuse is removed from the settlementbefore it becomes a nuisance or a health risk  OXFAM Technical Brief – Domestic and Refugee Camp Waste Management Collection and Disposal 3  Waste reuse Opportunities should be explored with the beneficiaries for reusing items, which may otherwise be thrown out as waste. Many materials can be reused and opportunities for reuse will dependant on culture, location and facilities available. For example, wood from packaging can be used as firewood or for shelter items (in Banda Aceh the timber from packaging from water supply equipment was used to make a bedstead), boxes and containers reused for storage etc. Waste recycling and composting Refer to separate Technical Briefing Note on Recycling and Composting. Other Waste Management Options The following sections provide guidance on the burial and incineration of waste. These should only be undertaken where there are no alternative options available such as, municipal landfill, controlled incineration or similar and after waste has been reduction, reuse and recycling.  At a household level Collection, containment & storage Family bins are rarely used in emergency situations since they require an intensive collection and transportation system and the number of containers or bins required is likely to be huge. In the later stages of an emergency community members can however be encouraged to make and use their own refuse containers to be emptied at communal pits or disposal points. Householders should be encouraged to keep all their waste in a specified container, which is covered to reduce smells and stop flies and rodents accessing the waste. Storage time before collection should be as short as possible especially in tropical, humid conditions, which increase decomposition time and therefore increase smells and breeding insects. Householders should also be encouraged to separate out any hazardous wastes, such as aerosol cans, any medical related waste, etc. so that it can be separately disposed of at appropriate facilities. In an initial response no dwelling should be more than 10m from a refuse container or household pit (in line with Sphere standards). Examples of household containers include: ã traditional baskets made by the families, whichcan then be covered; Example: ã simple plastic buckets with handle and lids;Following the Asian tsunami in 2004, relief supplies where brought to refugee camps in particular bottled drinking water. Although in the immediate aftermath this was an essential supply, once locally supplied water was available the continued supply of bottle water presented an enormous waste problem in terms of the large volume of discarded plastic bottles that resulted. ã sacks from rice, rations etc. that can be securelytied; ã plastic bags that can be secured. Disposal Where disposal is not undertaken at a communal level, i.e. waste is collected and disposed of at a central facility, the following options can be considered at a household level: Pits Small household pits offer a simple option for disposal of household waste where there is sufficient space. Families should be encouraged to regularly cover waste with soil from sweeping or ash from fires used for cooking. It should be noted that the disposal of organic material in pits will create methane gas with associated environmental atmospheric problems (methane is a five times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO 2 )). Where possible organic material should be removed from the general refuse and composted or used as feed for livestock (if appropriate). Requirements ã >10m from dwellings ã >15m from water sources ã  Approximately 1.5m above water table (if possible drive a reinforcement bar down 1.5mand check if wet when pulled out, otherwise diga small trench to 1.5m) ã  A shallow pit approximately 1 to 1.5m deep,with soil to be left to one side to allow for dailycovering of waste to reduce smells, flies,rodents, etc ã  A small fence constructed around the pit toavoid accidents and scavenging Photo:  E  xamples of Household Waste Container in a Basket and in Sacks   OXFAM Technical Brief – Domestic and Refugee Camp Waste Management Collection and Disposal 4
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