The burning of urban waste in Mozambique

Burning is the most common traditional way of dealing with wastes in Mozambique. However this has serious implications for human health and for the environment.

In Africa, the urbanization of cities tends to increase, due the large birth rate and to the migration of the rural population to these areas. The agglomeration in urban areas associated with the consumption patterns and economic activities, results in a strong negative impact for the environment in terms of resources consumption and waste elimination.

The urban waste is considered the major precursors of problems for the environment and for human health and with the industrial revolution these problems have been increasingly intensified. In attempt to solve this, several forms of treatment of urban waste are adopted in the cities, disregarding the secondary effects that it can cause.

An inadequate management of urban waste can lead to serious implications for environment since this process requires areas with adequate infrastructure and technology in order to not harming the social environment and the health of the human population.

In Mozambique, the growth of the cities was not complemented by the provision of infrastructure, technology and other urban services associated with the solid waste management. For this reason, waste management in certain municipalities is a major challenge, where the use of traditional methods is the main way to deal with this problem, with consequences on environmental quality and on the health of the population.

One of these traditional forms used in waste management in Mozambique, is the burning of municipal waste. This act is considered a traditional and effective method for reducing the volume of waste in bins or containers distributed in some cities, but it is still a form of air pollution. This type of pollution affects the human health, ecosystems and even the clime, due to the quantities of harmful gases (e.g. carbon dioxide (CO2), one of those responsible for the greenhouse effect, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), both responsible for acid rains) emitted into the atmospheric air during the waste incineration process such as plastic, packages, plastic bottles, medical waste, and other types of fuels.

In some Mozambican cities the burning of waste is made with little concern about the place and the side effects that this can have.

In several Mozambican cities, the solid waste management has been a challenge for the city municipalities, as these usually have few specific resources for waste treatment (such as appropriate trucks for periodic collection or incinerators), being the waste burning the only method used. This process is traditionally done and in clear sky, in the municipal dumps or in the containers distributed over the cities, causing great damage to the health of local the population. This is the reason why the solution for this problem should become a priority for the Presidents of our Municipalities.