Waste Management: Lessons from Japan

The Mayor of Mahikeng Local Municipality, Cllr Lina Miga recently welcomed a team of waste management experts. The Japanese delegation arrived in South Africa in July 2014 to offer their expertise in enhancing the municipality’s coordination and intervention in dealing with the management of solid waste, as well as promoting a clean ‘Capital of the North West Province’.

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Mahikeng Mayor Cllr Lina Miga and council officials welcoming the Japanese delegation

The national Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) initiated a partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to support the Mahikeng Local Municipality in its efforts to deal with issues of waste management. The partnership includes the provincial Department of Local Government and Human Settlements as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs, and has yielded positive results in dealing with the management of solid waste. Waste management is the most important function in promoting a clean and healthy environment

Japan International Cooperation Agency is subsidized by the Japanese Government and it has 20 offices throughout Africa. JICA aims to promote international cooperation as well as sound development of the Japanese and global economy by supporting the socio-economic development, recovery or economic stability of developing regions. JICA offers training opportunities, technical experts, financial assistance and volunteer programmes to developing countries.

A Time and Motion Study was done in conjunction with DCoG`s Clean Cities Programme and conducted within Mahikeng Local Municipality by Mr Thomas Kolokoto. The aim of the study was to assess the efficiency of the current waste collection system with the view to determine whether waste collection is done optimally with regards to trucks, the areas served and collection routes, among others. An action plan was then developed to focus on improving solid waste management. As a follow up to this study, JICA invited waste management experts from Japan to visit Mahikeng Local Municipality in order to offer technical support to the municipality on waste-related matters. JICA made available a budget of R920 000 towards the “Keeping Mahikeng Clean” campaign.

During the site visits, the team of experts was accompanied by the Mayor and the Mayoral Committee and was taken to waste hot spots, the municipal landfill area, CBD, taxi ranks, vehicle maintenance workshop, etc. where they were able to have firsthand experience on the littering that is caused by residents and hawkers. They also got to see the process of refuse collection in the township as well as in the CBD area.

Later that evening, the Mayor hosted dinner for the delegation and the guests were entertained by Tswana traditional dancers and were pampered with proudly South African gifts. In her speech, the Mayor thanked the delegation for choosing Mahikeng Local Municipality for this project as well as all the stakeholders involved. “The leadership of Mahikeng has come a long way since 2011 and has made enormous progress in dealing with issues of refuse removal and cleaning of the city. The solid waste management project will offer work opportunities to residents of Mahikeng” said the Mayor.

Mr Hiroyuki Kinomoto, the Chief Representative, JICA South Africa, thanked the Mayor for the warm welcome and expressed his gratitude for the strategic partnership between JICA, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Mahikeng Local Municipality and that he looks forward to a fruitful working relationship.

The next day, the delegation from Japan held a round table discussion with government officials and shared their knowledge on dealing with waste management, compared to their observation, and how the municipality can improve their efficiency on these matters.

On the third day a workshop was conducted with stakeholders who operate within the waste management environment. This was a way of creating awareness to communities and other stakeholders on the responsibility of “Keeping Mahikeng Clean”.

The Municipal Manager, Mr Rabanye, indicated that the experience of Mahikeng before and after the implementation of the Clean Cities programme is completely different as there has been a lot of improvement in the cleanliness of the town. He further thanked the Department of Cooperative Governance and JICA for facilitating the visit and the good work that the team has done. “We are indeed humbled that this visit coincided with such an important month where we honor and celebrate the Mandela International Day.”

JICA also offered capacity building to the Municipality by embarking on a tour to Cape Town with municipal officials to show them their advanced waste management projects that they sponsor in the City of Cape Town. Some best practices on waste management were shared at the Seminar that was hosted by DCoG and attended by other municipalities in Pretoria on 24 July 2014. At the seminar, JICA also shared Japan’s best practice on solid waste management and how by-laws are enforced to ensure compliance. In Japan they utilise the three Rs system, (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle) and they also use the transparent refuse bins so that they can see if residents have divided their waste into the correct refuse bags.

Solid waste management remains one of the major challenges experienced by many municipalities. Cities, towns, townships and villages are often untidy and polluted by scattered and unattended waste. With the engagements of the Japanese expertise Mahikeng will soon be counted amongst the cleanest cities in the country.