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Drivers of legal and illegal solid waste disposal in the Global South - The case of households in Yaoundé (Cameroon)

Sotamenou, Joël, De Jaeger, Simon, Rousseau, Sandra
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.240 pp. 321-330
compliance, composting, containers, data collection, households, infrastructure, issues and policy, logit analysis, municipal solid waste, transportation, waste disposal, Cameroon
Managing municipal solid waste is a challenge for many policy makers, but even more so in the Global South. Regulatory instruments are often limited, available resources are scarce and illegal waste disposal is an easy opt-out. We analyze a unique dataset regarding waste disposal choices by households in Yaoundé, Cameroon, including information on illegal waste dumping. Overall, households in Yaoundé seem to act predominantly as rational, cost-minimizing agents. While social criteria also play a role, waste disposal choices are mainly determined by the accessibility of the different alternatives. In particular the output of a multinomial logit model shows that households with (easy) access to legal alternatives such as centralized drop-off containers or curbside waste collection are less likely to dispose of their waste in an illegal manner. In addition, illegal disposal becomes more attractive when the illegal waste dumpsite is closer to the family home and transportation costs are lower. Although these results might seem unspectacular, in the context of the Global South, these findings also reveal that investing in waste collection infrastructure offers great potential in improving waste disposal, particularly in combination with other measures such as removing illegal dumpsites, incorporating pre-collection and composting into institutional programs, raising awareness and increasing the level of compliance.