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Study of humanitarian and development organisations’ waste management practices in Haiti
November 2014-Fébruary 2015, in partnership with CEFREPADE

Under the instigation of the Humanitarian Environment Network, the Groupe URD Haiti Observatory carried a study of the waste management practices of aid programmes in Haiti, in partnership with CEFREPADE, an NGO which specializes in waste management issues in developing countries. For a number of years, NGOs, donors and United Nations agencies have begun to look into the question of environmental impact, and notably the waste produced by aid programmes. This study maps existing recycling initiatives in Haiti and proposes possible solutions to improve waste management and waste prevention practices for aid organizations and the sector in general.

In the context of their operational programmes and in their internal functioning (offices and expats’ houses), aid organizations produce waste which can be harmful for the environment if it is not managed appropriately (used motor oil, electronic waste, medical waste, etc.). Unfortunately, the question of waste is not seen as a priority by public decision-makers in Haiti, as is the case in many countries in the global south. The waste system is characterized by a complete lack of treatment, either for household waste or for hazardous waste. In this context, and referring to the principle of “Do No Harm”, NGOs and other organizations who are active in reconstruction have a responsibility to reduce the quantity of waste that they produce to a minimum and to make sure the waste that they produce is managed in an environmentally-friendly manner.

The study showed that, apart from medical waste, for which NGOs have set up management systems (incineration/exportation), the issue of waste is not taken into account sufficiently by aid organizations in Haiti. They are generally not aware of the waste that they produce or the way that it is managed, beyond the service contracts that they establish with local waste collection companies. What is more, there are almost no links between aid organizations and the private recycling initiatives which have been developed in Haiti since 2010.

Aid organizations should take advantage of the recycling opportunities which exist in Haiti, where a lot of non-hazardous waste (paper/card/plastic/metal/aluminium, etc.) and hazardous waste (used motor oil, electronic waste, etc.) can be recycled. They also need to reduce the amount of waste that they produce and to revise the materials and packaging that they choose for their programmes (e.g. training or distributions).

Aid organisations need to think about their responsibilities over and above the visible waste that they produce. In order to behave in an exemplary and transparent manner, they need to take the issue of waste into account from planning to implementation. This will have an impact on the quality of their programmes and how these are accepted by the local population. Technical solutions need to be developed and adapted to the local context. But above all, they need to be part of a regulatory context which allows them to be taken into account at the institutional level in order to allow long-term changes to practices.

This study maps existing recycling initiatives in Haiti and proposes possible solutions to improve waste management and waste prevention practices for aid organizations and the sector in general.