Wadi-Otba’s Waste Management Plan: Innovating Policies, Changing Practices

Waste management is at the core of the decentralization process in Libya and represents one of the urgent challenges facing central and local authorities. ISAL, built upon several significant axes, tried to support Libyan institutions in this context by having special focus on waste management. The interventions under this axis included but were not limited to designing and implementing a pilot project1 in Wadi Otba2 through joint efforts between the Municipality and local CSOs. 

In Wadi-Otba, Everyone is part of the Municipal Waste Management Plan

Wadi Otba participated in ISAL’s open call to benefit from technical assistance and financial support for elaborating its waste management plan. The project brought different actors together and set up a team comprising the mayor, members of the municipal council, representatives of the municipal services in charge of planning and environment, as well as local Libyan CSOs working on environmental issues. This large and diverse group conducted collectively a diagnosis of the state of play of waste management in Wadi Otba. The diagnosis aimed to identify the composition and quantity of waste produced in Wadi Otba and to scope the needs of the Municipality, as well as its strengths and weaknesses.

The diagnosis phase was then followed by a series of workshops, centred around context-aware knowledge. Exchanges between experts and local actors allowed to identify  the best modalities for conducting waste management activities.

The training sessions improved the planning capacities of local actors. The workshops were also opportunities to figure out how to define the best means of ensuring an adequate quality of service provision, taking into account the means available to municipalities.

The practical part involved field visits to waste transfer points and temporary and permanent landfills in Tunis. These visits allowed a close look at the methods of operating the interim and final landfills.

The field visits to Tunis aimed to explore the experience of a neighbouring country with its flaws and advantages. The visits also further the colleague-to-colleague learning process for the participants, acquainting them with the operational difficulties encountered by their counterparts in Tunisia during waste management processes and the derived lessons on how to deal with them.  

The combination of the theoretical knowledge and the practical know-how allowed the municipal actors and their local partners to develop a vision with the necessary policies and actions to improve  the management system of household waste in Wadi Otba .

From Long Conversations and Mutual Learning to a Solid Waste Management Plan

The Municipality has then been accompanied to concretize the acquired knowledge into an operational planning tool, and a local waste management plan has hence been drawn up to organize the waste management cycle better, Reduce, Recover, Landfilling, and improve the services of collection, transfer, and recovery of waste.

For the plan to be effective, it was designed with respect to the daily financial and logistical challenges faced by the Municipality. An estimation of the implementation costs was prepared with the action plan. In order to facilitate the implementation and operationalization of the action plan developed with the municipality, ISAL program provided the Municipality with  some material, namely two trucks and two tractors. On the other hand, the community’s efforts were called into action, and the Municipality mobilized external resources from other international partners to supplement what was still needed.

The waste management plan of the Wadi-Otba municipality has had short-term effects. It has managed to change planning and management capacities enabling the municipality to be more efficient in accomplishing its actual and potential responsibilities. On the other hand, the project impacted the process through more participation and transparency. At the level of citizens and CSOs, the project succeeded in increasing their commitment and hence ownership around municipal policies on waste management.

Furthermore, the project did not only change the local policies pertaining to waste management and the way the municipality conceives of its role in issues related to the public matter, but it contributed to ameliorating the provision of the service per se and its impact on the environment for a  healthier city on the long term. Moreover, by involving actors, the project collaterally contributed to bridging the gap between the municipality and the citizens, which is one of ISAL’s objectives. Mayor Assalhin was proud to report that he holds frequent meetings with “notables, councils of wise men, Mukhtar (head of the municipal sub-division, mahalla), and civil society representatives. We present our programs and discuss them with everyone”.