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Solid and household waste management, a new area of employment in Port-au-Prince
Isabelle Fortin & Richener Noel

The re-use and transformation of waste are sectors which have evolved a great deal in recent years in Haiti, due to continually increasing international demand for recyclable solid waste, the need for sanitation, the development of salvaged plastic, processing and recycling, and also due to the fact that these sectors provide significant opportunities for income generation for the most economically vulnerable people: single women, street children, young unemployed people, etc. The majority of these activities had begun before the earthquake of 12 January 2010, but they have grown in the wake of the major humanitarian response to the disaster, sanitation being a central part of the work done by humanitarian organizations, particularly those working in IDP camps. Thus, different initiatives have been supported in recent years.

 Waste collection in the metropolitan region: the public domain

Two public structures are responsible for managing solid and household waste in the metropolitan region: the Service Métropolitain de Collecte des Résidus Solides (SMCRS) and local authorities. The SMRCS was created in 1981. Since its creation, it has at times been part of the Ministry for Public Works (MTPTC), and at other times it has been considered an authority of the Communauté urbaine de Port-au-Prince (local authority, 1983) and at yet other times it has had the double tutelage of the MTPTC and the Ministry of the Interior [1]. Its mission is to collect refuse which has previously been swept and piled by the services of the different town halls. The SMCRS is therefore legally responsible for collecting waste, but in reality, it also engages in street sweeping and recruits salaried staff for limited periods. The two entities are still not very well coordinated and their mandates sometimes overlap [2]. The town halls of the metropolitan region regularly explain that they are unable to fulfill their responsibilities regarding waste management.

Due to a lack of financial and human resources, the SMCRS is in no way capable of collecting all the waste produced in the metropolitan area (approx. 584000 t/year Élaboration d’une Politique Stratégique de Gestion des Déchets Solides pour la Région métropolitaine de Port-au-Prince , ministère des Travaux Publics, Transports et Communications, (2010), p. 62.). Its current budget, which is approximately 500 000 USD per month, and its staff, which has fewer than 350 people split into 25 teams, represent less than 25% of what would be necessary to cover the needs which exist. The amount of waste collected by the company varies from one year to another, depending on the means available and the neighbourhood in question (for example, in Delmas it collected between 30% and 35% of the total waste produced in 2011) [3]. The SMCRS does not have any recycling equipment or incinerators. The waste collected in the metropolitan region is simply piled up or burnt in the open air on different sites, including Truitier (Cité-Soleil commune), which covers 215 hectares.

 Private profit-making businesses

Private businesses have also been involved in the collection and transportation of waste for a number of years: SANCO and Boucard Pest Control have contracts with companies, institutions and individuals. They use the SMRCS’s discharge sites and even sometimes their containers. There are no laws which regulate or support the activities of these businesses.

[1] Bérut Cécile and Jean Chesnel Jean (2011), Analyse de la filière récupération et transformation des déchets plastiques, Oxfam Québec. In addition, according to data from 2002, the percentage of waste collected is approximately 22% for the Metropolitan Region of Port-au-Prince, in D.Hoornweg & P.Bhada-­‐Tata, « What a waste: a Global Review of Solid Waste Management, World Bank », Urban Development Series knowledge papers, n° 15, WORLD BANK, March 2012- Estimate for low income countries. P. 66.

[2] Holly Gérald (dir) (1999). Les problèmes environnementaux de la région métropolitaine de Port-au-Prince, Commission pour la commémoration de la ville de Port-au-Prince, p. 29.

[3] Bérut and Jean, op. cit., p. 6.