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African Towns’ Waste Management: Port Said, Egypt Case Study

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2022


The increasing population and urbanization of third world countries has been widely documented. Recent studies by Hasanah from World Bank in 2003, shows that waste management is a challenge to environmental and social scientists. Waste management within communities is an intricate activity that involves collection, storing, handling and disposal of waste which has serious environmental implications in terms of ground water pollution, public health risk and contribution to global warming. Factors such as rapid urbanization, globalization and economic growth within major cities have compounded the problem of increased waste disposal. There have been reported instances all over the Africa countries of the neglect of treating and disposing the waste.


An exhaustive study was carried out to analyze waste management in African countries focusing on Port Said, a city in North-East Egypt. Despite the increasing concern on the amount of waste generated in both urban and rural areas, studies have revealed that two thirds of solid wastes generated are not collected in African countries. Studies by Bushra in 2000, show that Egypt is generating 10 million tons of municipal solid waste annually.


According to Badran and El-Haggar in 2005, solid waste that drains in Port Said is generated from several sources such as residential, commercial, institutional, construction and demolition, and municipal services. The scope of the report have specifically dealt with three critical themes; waste transportation, waste collection and recycling. The report addresses problems in developing African countries in general and the city of Port Said in particular. It is a good example of what is currently going on in most developing countries in Africa and hence sets a good case for comparison and analysis.

Sources and Methods

The study was conducted using qualitative research method by comparing data and works from various past studies on waste management within African nations and the developing world at large. Qualitative method within this particular area is more diverse and emphasizes particularity over generalizations. Diverse literature about waste management has been widely documented especially for Port Said from professional journal articles, books, websites and newspapers. All these sources were considered and used for the study.

Limitations and Assumptionns

Although numerous studies have been undertaken in Port Said, it is worth noting that some of the statistical data presented are approximate. Furthermore, since no precise pictures were taken on the case of Port Said, some of them provide information that may be general.


Martin Medina in 2004 urges that third World cities have undergone a rapid urbanization during the past fifty years. Deliberated one of the salient Egyptian ports as a result of its distinctive location at the entrance of the Suez Canal and one of the most significant waterways in the world, Port Said is located in North East Egypt within the biggest merchant shipping line between Europe and Asia, (Badran and El-Haggar, 2005). Port Said as show in pictures 1and 2 (Collected from the internet), is also regarded as the biggest transit port in the world with an estimated population of 588, 768 as at 2007.

Comparative to other Egyptian and African Cities, the city has not optimized its waste management systems thereby creating serious environmental problems. According to Badran and El-Haggar (2005), in excess of 700 tons of wastes are generated within the port daily. They further note that the city uses a system used by nearly all other African urban centers in which waste are transferred between the collection points and the land fields. With the several cultural differences in the country, these contribute to the different clusters of waste generated from the city.

Shows Port Said.
Picture 1 and 2. Shows Port Said.

Waste Transportation

The most commonly used means of transporting waste in Port Said are trucks, trailers and animal drawn carriers. The modernization process in waste transportation has seen the entry of lag carriers which transport larger volume of waste. Despite being classified by most scientists as primitive and weak transportation systems, the modern trends in developed countries depicts ineffective and very costly. Studies by Achankeng (2003) reveals that African countries (Egypt included) invest on average about 50% of the waste management budget on waste transportation but only 20% of the total waste is transported. It is the responsibility of the local government to transport waste since this falls under their docket according to the government strategic plan.

Waste Collection

The appropriate method of waste collection has been detailed by Medina study of 1998 that involves setting designate collecting bins all of different characteristic. The waste is then sorted and proper disposal implemented by the relevant authority. In Port Said, waste collection is done by local authority employees and is largely dependent on two critical factors, transportation capacity and the availability of manpower. Most of developing African cities, of which Port Said is part of, falls below the accepted benchmark for the optimum workforce requirement in waste collection.


Environmental concerns on the amount of waste management stretched to critical levels globally leading to acceptance and promotion of recycling and reuse of waste which was regarded as an excellent waste management approach. Comparing with the developed countries, majority of the developing nations have fairly lower consumption levels hence the recycling practices are often guided by values, traditional practices and the prevailing socio-economic conditions (Achankeng, 2003).

The larger amounts of wastes generated from Port Said are: paper, plastics, metals, glass and rags respectively. Even though most of waste collection is done local authorities, there are pool representatives within specific sites which collect the majority of the recycled waste. Call for greener and clean development mechanisms to recover and recycle waste has lead the initiatives by NGOs, environmentalists, municipal councils and other stakeholders promoting a culture of recycling not only in Port Said but in most of the African countries.


The facts collected on the waste management methods depicted in Port Said, it is clear that there is a direct relationship on the environmental aspects and the relevant body involved in the management of waste. Port Said waste management strategies drawn from the study indicate a centralized approach in which the local government is responsible for waste collection, transportation and disposal. This approach does not only limit community participation but is capital intensive.


With the data collected and case analyzed for Port Said, it is clearly emphatic and specific that the methods of waste management used in most African cities are rigid, unified and do not involve the casual sector hence the reason why the menace have not been properly solved. It is very clear that waste conditions in African cities are different as compared to those of the developed world hence innovative approaches such as decentralized system of waste management should be put in place to address the problem. Medina (1998), proposes a high breed approach which involves the participation of the Low, middle and high income earners to be part of the team and be involved in all stages of waste management thus solving the problem amicably.


The study recommends that the local authority should privatize waste collection and transportation thereby incorporating the private sector to provide the necessary services for additional demand. There should also be sensitization and awareness creation of the communities on increased volume of recycled waste within the city. In addition, transportation trucks should be provided by the local government in Port Said to effectively manage the estimated 160 m3 of waste discharged daily within the city. It is also paramount for the government to move from the centralized model and involve other small players such as the community members, micro-enterprises and the private sector.


Achankeng, E. (2003) Globalization, Urbanization and Municipal Solid Waste Management in Africa. African Studies Associations of Australasia and the Pacific. Conference Proceedings-African on a Global Stage, 65 (1), pp. 4-13.

Badran M. F. and El-Haggar S. M., 2005. Optimization of municipal solid waste management in Port Said – Egypt, 23 (1), pp. 27-33.

Bushra, M., 2000. Regional Study on Policies and Institutional Assessment of Solid Waste Management in Egypt. Blue Plan Regional Activity Centre, Sophia Antipolis. 66 (1), pp. 58-61.

Enurlaela, H., (2003) Crises and Contradictions: Understanding the Origins of a Community Development Project in Indonesia Scott Guggenheim, 8 (1), pp. 7-9.

Medina, M., 1998. Globalization, Development and Municipal Solid Waste Management in Third World Cities. El Colegio de la Frontera Notre, Tijuana, Mexico, 77(1), pp. 45-48.

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