Wastes are unwanted or any substance which is discarded after primary use, or it is insignificant, defective and of no use. Waste generation and disposal is a very common problem in most third world countries. In Sierra Leone, the problem has been a persistent battle, with successive Governments applying different approaches in a bid to eradicate the scourge. Sustainable management of waste is critical to the health and well-being of residents, the environment, and in revenue and power generation. The negative health effect has become a growing concern especially due to the increase in urbanization, changes in consumer pattern, and industrialization which all directly translates to an increase in waste generation.
Poor waste management practices, in particular, widespread dumping of waste in water bodies and uncontrolled dump sites, exacerbates the problems of generally low sanitation levels across the country. Urbanization is on the rise in Sierra Leone, and this trend is expected to continue in the future. Urban population of Sierra Leone increased from 21.8 % in 1967 to 40.3 % in 2016 growing at an average annual rate of 1.27 %. Of concern is the inability of infrastructure and land use planning methods (including for waste management) to cope with urban growth. This is particularly urgent in slum areas, which constitute a big part of many of the cities and towns in the country. Waste generation is expected to increase significantly as a result of industrialization, urbanization and modernization of agriculture in Sierra Leone. This will further aggravate current capacity constraints in waste management
Improper management of waste is a major concern in the Capital city, with only three major landfill sites; Granvill Brook (Bumeh) & Bottom Oku in the east and Kingtom in the west where there is no base or top seal to prevent the flow of leachates to underground water or rivers or the infiltration of water into the waste. At the King Tom dump site, leachate seeps into White Man’s Bay where it mixes with discharges of raw sewage effluent from sludge drying ponds on the same site. This results in the spread of contagious and water-borne diseases into soil and water. In Bo city, estimated population is 200,000, with around 14,000 households and generates 25,000-50,000kg of human (faecal) waste every day. In the absence of appropriate sewerage networks, residents and institutions rely on on-site facilities such as pit toilets and septic tanks. When full, these must be emptied, or new facilities constructed. The service for pit-tank emptying is relatively unregulated, and poses considerable public health risks to workers and the general public.