DESWAM | Decentralized Solid Waste Management


Solid Waste Management Challenges

The realization of sustainable solid waste management is a major challenge for local governments today. Unplanned rapid population growth in urban areas has resulted in serious infrastructural problems making conventional solid waste management practices difficult to implement. Furthermore, many developing countries suffer from the following challenges that are not easily solved through conventional systems:

  • Inadequate government funding and capacity (esp. trucks) to provide services
  • Initial costs and operation of conventional systems are very expensive
  • Lack of fee collection system and law enforcement on fees and fines
  • Lack of training, equipment, and capacities by local service providers
  • Limited community awareness
  • Limited to no waste separation before the final dumpsite
  • Land limitations inhibiting the creation of new transfer stations and dumpsites
  • Unreliable solid waste management services results in illegal waste dumping and pollution

Gaps in Centralized Solid Waste Management

When solid waste management services are not provided or accessible in unplanned areas through conventional means, the responsibility to manage solid waste becomes the responsibility of individuals. In developing countries with poor service provisions and a lack of solid waste education, most individuals rely on burning or illegally dumping their solid waste as their management strategy.

The results of these practices can be extremely harmful to both human and environmental health including: toxins leaching into the soil and groundwater supplies, build up of waste causing flooding, increased air pollution from burning etc.

DESWAM- A Systemic Approach

A Decentralised Solid Waste Management (DESWAM) system approach is based on the concept of integrating decentralized peri-urban systems within urban planning initiatives and centralized waste concepts. This allows communities to meet their needs and micro-manage their solid waste while ensuring it meets the larger waste management strategy.


DESWAM focuses on engaging all stakeholders involved in the solid waste management process and providing reliable and regular waste services that cover the following steps:

  • Source waste management
  • Waste and fee collection
  • Waste reduction at a DESWAM facility
  • Transport of waste to the final dumpsite

Simplicity is expressed by on or off-site basic waste separation into three groups; organic waste, recyclable waste, and residual waste, and by implementing simple composting technologies on available sites. Once established this management system can help reduce the amount of solid waste transported to final landfills by up to 60% and allows for alternative income to be generated for solid waste management operators.

DESWAM systems are designed in such a way that the new system helps to induce behavior changes leading to increased local environmental integrity and helps communities meet the requirements stipulated by environmental laws and regulations.

DESWAM Service Model

The underlying principle of DESWAM is to create regular and reliable solid waste management systems following sustainable business models. This tends to require extensive stakeholder training and engagement in the following areas:

  • Client database and mapping creation and management (for fees and service areas)
  • Logistics/Coordination; coordinating available trucks, funding, and waste stakeholders
  • Service provider business and operations training
  • DESWAM facility operations training

DESWAM Facilities

A DESWAM facility can be designed to manage varying amounts of incoming solid waste per day depending on individual community needs. The applications of this system are primarily based on three management principles (modules), combined according to their specific characteristics to a customized treatment system.

  • Solid waste separation into; organic, recyclable, and residual solid wastes (either at the household level or in a facility)
  • Recycling, reusing, and selling of separated recyclable waste to markets and industries for profit
  • Composting of organic waste to create useable soil additive and fertilizer

Material Recovery Facility (MRF)

A material recovery facility is a facility where waste is separated into organic, recyclable, and residual waste and organic waste is composted on site. Organic waste is composted in a side facility on site and the final compost product is sold for profit. Recyclable waste is sold to the private sector or industry for other uses. Residual waste is either shipped directly off site or stored in a temporary waste holding container until it can be transported to the final landfill.

A MRF is essentially a combination of a Material Separation Facility and a Compost Facility.

Compost Facility (CF)

A compost facility is a location where organic waste is transformed into compost. Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled to become a natural soil additive and fertilizer.


Separating solid waste at your home is easy!

All you need is two containers; one to hold organic waste and one to hold inorganic waste.

Benefits of Household Waste Separation:
  • Produces a cleaner by-product for handling
  • Waste is easier to handle for composting
  • Saves money and time for the DESWAM facility operators
DESWAM Service Packages
  • Material Recovery Facility(MRF)
  • Material Separation Facility(MSF)
  • Compost Facility (CF)
  • DESWAM Quality Standard Guidelines
  • Community Education and Mobilization
  • Operator Training and Supervision
  • Technical Expertise
  • Service Provider Business Development
  • Facilitating Local Government in Implementing Solid Waste Services