Hygiene in Ouagadougou: When you push the cap of laisser-faire to the limits of insubordination

One of the multiple dumps in Ouagadougou spontaneously put in place by populations

A comparative study, about public hygiene in Ouagadougou and Kigali (capital of Rwanda declared by the UN in 2015 as “the best African capital”), would undoubtedly lead to the following conclusion: the state of remarkable hygiene in a nation is linked to the political will of the rulers, but also and especially to the eco-citizenship of the governed.

Rwanda is an exemplary country in terms of public hygiene management in Africa and globally. Indeed, whole management system has been designed, from the provision of public garbage cans to compulsory community work, to the payment of fines in the event of an offense (garbage throw). In Burkina Faso, we are still far from this point, but since April 2005, the government of Burkina Faso, with the support of its partners, has started a Technical Landfill (CET) in Polesgo, a locality in the district of Nongr-Massom, 10 kms from downtown Ouagadougou. More than 300,000 tons of waste would be dumped there every year. Landfills have also been put in place. A palliative that should allow, a little bit, to minimize the risk of environmental contamination and to control the flow of waste caused by the frenetic increase of the population of Ouagadougou, estimated today to about 2.6 million inhabitants. Many other structures are also active in cleaning the city or in recycling (especially through the collection of plastic waste). This should, in principle, reduce the amount of waste in the capital. However, garbage of all kinds continues to strew the streets of Ouagadougou nowadays.

The lack of eco-citizenship quickly became commonplace.

The Article 58 of the Environmental Code in Burkina Faso states that “it is prohibited to bury hazardous waste or expose it in places other than landfills or landfills that are reserved and the authorized storage centers “. So, it is required of each” polluter-pays” (any individual or household likely to produce waste in Ouagadougou) a financial contribution to allow the collection and the routing of these waste to the landfill. Is this due to communication deficit, ignorance or poor civic-mindedness we witness the proliferation of dumps described as “uncontrolled”, for having been spontaneously put in place by the populations themselves. On these heaps of rubbish, we find rubbish, of various natures, often incompatible with each other, and adjoining the dwellings. Paper, cardboard, plastics, and others, decorate the main arteries of the city as well as the periphery. It is thus near the trade, in the channels of evacuation of water and even on the National Routes. Is the indulgence of the central state and the municipality towards citizens the reason for such uncleanliness of the city? Should we rethink the public waste management system? One thing is obvious: “the city of Ouagadougou is dirty and we must act as quickly as possible,” insists an inhabitant.

Another dump full of plastic waste

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner