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The Potentials of development of urban and peri-urban agriculture in relation to urban waste management in West Africa Project (APUGEDU) was undertaken by a consortium of four organisations based in Bamako, Mali and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and four European research organisations. This multidisciplinary, systems-oriented project lasted from March 1999 through May 2002 and was co-ordinated by the Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI), of the Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands.

The objectives were to strengthen the development of sustainable (peri)-urban agricultural sectors and also a viable system of processing, distribution and marketing of organic waste material; to develop effective linkages between the (peri)-urban agricultural and urban waste management sectors; and to formulate development scenarios and policy recommendations.

The project began with detailed characterisations of both the agricultural and waste management sectors in each of the two study cities. This included the use of participatory appraisal techniques as well as quantitative surveys. Policies affecting both of these sectors were inventoried and summarised. In addition, samples of existing waste products were taken and analysed for the presence of biological pathogens and heavy metals. All of this information, together with additional focus group discussions with stakeholders, contributed to the evaluation of constraints and potentials for improving the use of organic municipal waste in urban and peri-urban farming systems. This analysis supported the development of pilot projects and experiments concerning both the composting of waste and its use as a soil fertiliser. In Bamako, both urban and peri-urban farmers engaged in a process of participatory technology development. They first experimented with pit and windrow composting of urban waste on their farms and then with two application rates of the resulting compost on trial plots for three different crops with a control comprising the use of animal manure and waste fertilisers. In Ouagadougou, farmers experimented with different application rates but using compost supplied by women's associations that collect household waste. A controlled experiment of windrow composting using passive aeration was undertaken and the results compared with a control of manual aeration. Alternative scenarios for developing the linkages between waste management and (peri)-urban agriculture were elaborated and analysed for their economic viability.

The results of the project indicate that urban households produce a steady and significant source of solid organic waste. Municipal waste management systems in the two cities have not seen their financial resources match urban growth. As a result, a number of other actors, including small enterprises and non-profit associatons have also engaged in waste collection and disposal. Organic waste is valued by farmers, in particular peri-urban farmers cultivating cereal crops, make illicit arrangements with drivers of the municipal lorries to have solid unsorted waste dumped at the edge of their fields. The laboratory analysis of samples indicates that while not immediately alarming, this practice is not ideal and probably presents risks for long-term accumulation of heavy metals in the environment, as well as the build-up of plastics and other materials in farmers' fields. Composting urban waste is possible and manual aeration remains the best option. The experiments reveal that, contrary to what was originally thought, this compost can be economically attractive to urban horticultural farmers but probably only when used in relatively high doses (greater than 5 kg/m2). For peri-urban staple crop farmers, the provision of sorted organic waste seems to offer the best solution. In presenting these results to a broad range of policymakers and other actors, the project succeeded in bringing attention to the issue and in initiating cross-sectoral discussion while plans are being negotiated with external donors for reinvigorating waste management.

Potential for Development of Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture in Relation to Urban Waste

Management in West Africa (APUGEDU)

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