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Wasted waste—Disappearing reuse at the peri-urban interface

Hofmann, Pascale
Environmental Science and Policy 2013 v.31 pp. 13-22
biodegradability, case studies, cities, decision making, farm labor, farmers, farming systems, food security, issues and policy, land resources, livelihood, stakeholders, urban planning, urbanization, waste management, wastes, Ghana, India, Nigeria
Safe and sustainable management of waste presents a major challenge in cities in the Global South. For decades farmers in the peri-urban interface (PUI) have used biodegradable components of urban waste as inputs into their farming practices. Evidence from Kano, Nigeria; Kumasi, Ghana; Hubli-Dharwad and Kolkata, India reveals in rare detail how urban waste reuse plays an important role in the livelihood strategies of lower-income families nd while waste farming also contributes significantly to urban food security. Health implications affecting farmers, farm-workers and community members often overshadow these benefits as highlighted through the case studies. Additionally, increasing competition over land and resources in the PUI paired with other factors triggered by processes of rapid development and urbanisation have rendered it more difficult for the peri-urban poor to access and use urban waste.The article further explores additional challenges of an institutional nature linked to the informality of reuse practices and prevalent sector approaches that are exacerbated by the institutional fragmentation present in the PUI. It is argued that an integrated city-wide policy that reduces the threats to peri-urban reuse practices while enhancing urban food security and integrated waste management is crucial. However, any effort to sustain these practices needs to incorporate adequate health and safety procedures. Thus, peri-urban farmers, farm workers and labourers constitute important stakeholders in urban planning and decision-making processes. Up to date primary data on the cases studied and further research on specific aspects of urban waste reuse are identified that could facilitate the development of viable solutions for integrated resource flow management.