On Wednesday, 26th June 2019, Freetown City Council (FCC) launched the Sustainable Waste Management through Local Micro-Enterprise Development Project, during a press conference held at the Mayor’s Parlour. The project seeks to facilitate the establishment of 61 small waste collection businesses over two years, by providing a waste collection tricycle, equipment and training for each successful applicant. The Le3.2 billion project, funded by a grant from the European Union (EU), significantly contributes to FCC’s Transform Freetown sanitation target, which by 2022, aims to have 60% of waste generated in the city collected, managed and disposed of safely.
Through this EU-funded project, FCC seeks to jointly tackle two of the major challenges that face the city – unemployment amongst young people and improper waste disposal. Additionally, it seeks to consolidate the gains made and lessons learned from similar interventions that have been implemented in the past. This was explained by the project coordinator, Mr Aruna Mans-Davies, who provided an overview of the project at the launch. He explained, “We have been intentional about improving on mechanisms used in similar projects, like Operation Clean Freetown, to have waste management sustainably owned by young people across the city. For instance, we are looking at making existing laws friendlier, more adaptable and more helpful to these new micro-enterprises. One key challenge for beneficiaries of Operation Clean Freetown was covering maintenance costs. We will introduce an Osusu fund in this project, which will help cover maintenance costs to sustain these businesses beyond the life cycle of this project.”
The statement by Mr Andrew Tucker, head of the Rural Development & Governance at the National Authorising Office, emphasized his organisation’s satisfaction with the progress of the project and expressed their commitment to providing the necessary support the project needs. Since the project started three months ago, the business service provider has been recruited and the process of selecting beneficiaries is 90% done.
The Sustainable Waste Management through Local Micro-Enterprise Development Project builds on a broader waste management system that FCC is introducing in Freetown. FCC will facilitate interventions at each stage of the waste management value chain; behaviour, collection, sorting, and offtake. Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr explained how the project fits into the rest of FCC’s plans for waste management. “This project seeks to improve on waste collection in areas where low income residents cannot afford to work with the bigger players. We are providing more collectors in the system for everyone. Sixty-one more tricycles today means we are going to have sixty-one more vehicles available to do house-to-house waste collection. If you don’t have infrastructure to collect the waste then residents will dump the waste where they are not supposed to,” said Mayor Aki-Sawyerr.
The launch of the project coincides with FCC’s registration of waste service providers in Freetown, an exercise aimed at providing FCC with a clearer picture of the players in the waste management sector, which in turn, will improve FCC’s ability to regulate the sector. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr disclosed during the launch that one major outcome of the registration process is that FCC now knows how many players are in each ward and that piece of information will be one of the considerations when allocating tricycles. “The donation made by the EU is not going to be a scattergun approach in terms of how we allocate the tricycles. It is going to be based on the need and we now have the data to confirm where the needs are. So the allocation of the 61 tricycles will be based on the criteria on the application forms and where we can fill in the gaps,” the Mayor described.
Mr. Mats Liljefelt, Head of Co-operation of the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone was present at the launch. He shared that the EU’s motivation for funding the project is that the EU is committed to supporting the development of sustainable cities, Goal Number 11 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and, more specifically, that FCC’s system to improve waste management was proven logical towards achieving that goal. “We chose to support cities that already have the dynamics in place, which is the case for Freetown. That is the reason we chose to sponsor FCC in this project that it has designed,” Mr Liljefelt emphasized.
The project will continue over the next 21 months and the next milestone is the selection of the 61 successful applicants for waste collection tricycle, tools and training in running waste collection businesses.