3rd Waste Management Officers (WMO) Khoro

Event date: 
2012-10-08 10:09

Waste Management Officers' (WMO) Khoro


Media related products


Waste is commonly described as any substance that is surplus, unwanted, rejected, abandoned or disposed of wherein the generator has no further use of. It is somewhat unavoidable in most instances but may have an economic value when reused, recycled or recovered. Economic development, urbanization and the move towards improving living standards in South Africa, have led to an increase in the quantity and complexity of waste generated.

The exponential increase in population coupled with modernization places serious stress on natural resources which further undermines equitable and sustainable development. As human societies evolve in scale and complexity, so too are the waste management challenges. However in South Africa, issues and problems of waste management have been acknowledged and brought to the front through in part; the promulgation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008); hereinafter referred to as the Waste Act.

The gradual increase of waste generated in South Africa, has contributed to the historical backlog of inadequate waste services which lead to unpleasant living conditions and a contaminated, unhealthy environment.

Furthermore, challenges are mounting in the areas of waste management infrastructure, facilities and thus maintenance thereof. Disposal of waste by landfill was a common practice in the country and this became problematic as population grew with additional sectors of industry. This practice placed Municipalities with various entities of government under tremendous pressure with regards to maintenance and management of waste as well as finding suitable land for waste disposal. This challenge leaves the country with no other option other than t seek measures to divert waste away from landfills and direct it to other waste management options such as reuse, recycling, recovery and energy generation.

While urbanisation has contributed to economic growth, rapid growth in the population has on the other hand over-whelmed the capacity of most municipalities to provide basic services for their communities. Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to provide waste management services. Whilst endeavouring to provide these services (storage, collection, transportation, and disposal), they are also faced with challenges in patterns of planned and unplanned growth and urbanisation in the country, the capacity to pay for, plan for; and effectively manage waste throughout its life cycle. However the shift to the implementation of the waste management hierarchy has proved effective, though there is still much work to be done until a process of implementing the “hierarchical” approach overtakes landfills as the preferred option of waste management.

 [back to top] 
Waste management hierarchy:

What is the Waste Khoro?

The Waste Management Officers (WMO) Khoro (conference in the Vhenda language) is an annual conference of all government institutions dealing with waste. The aim of this conference is to provide a platform for WMOs in the three spheres of government to share information and exchange thoughts in a mutually beneficial manner. It further aims to strengthen capacity and streamline the institutional framework across government entities to enhance effective waste management.

Objectives of the Waste Khoro

The evolution of national legislation, policy, agreements and research in waste management led to the promulgation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No.59 of 2008). The passing of this Act by parliament has reformed the law regulating waste management and also offers direction for the coordination of all waste management efforts to protect the environment and human health by providing reasonable measures for the prevention of pollution and ecological degradation and for securing ecologically sustainable development.

In addition to other multiple provisions; the Waste Act in section 10; provides for the designation of Waste Management Officers (WMOs) in the three spheres of the government whose main task is the coordination of waste management efforts between the three spheres of government, the private sector and the general public.

The main objectives of the Khoro are

  • to set a platform for the effective implementation of the Waste Act by the three spheres of government;
  • to discuss challenges and lessons learnt in the implementation of the Waste Act;
  • to exchange information on best practice in waste management service delivery;
  • to discuss and agree on the dimension shift in promoting the waste management hierarchy approach;
  • to re-emphasise the role of government authorities when it comes to authorisation of waste activities and ensure consistency where applicable;
  • to create and raise awareness on waste management; and
  • to put strategies in place which will put waste at the top of government service delivery agenda.

The inaugural WMO Khoro was held in 2010, Gauteng Province with the theme ‘Shifting the emphasis higher up the waste management hierarchy’. The focus was on legislation, recycling, re-use and recovery of waste, compliance and enforcement, waste services, governance and planning.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs declared the WMO Khoro as an annual conference and ever since its launch; it has been a success, attended by a combination of officials and political leaders from all three spheres of government including members of parliament and the media.

 [back to top] 

Overview of the 2nd (2011) WMO Khoro

The programme of action of the 1st WMO Khoro noted achievements and challenges in the management of waste which set the scene for the 2nd conference. The theme of the second conference was ‘Accelerating service delivery and creating jobs in waste’. The conference aimed to ensure that waste management is at the top of the government’s service delivery agenda and that waste service provision is extended to unserviced communities whilst maximising job creation by employing labour intensive models. The deliberations of the 2nd WMO Khoro included:

  • sound budgeting for waste services
  • waste services provision
  • legislation and compliance
  • diversion of waste from landfill
  • strengthening the regulatory framework
  • public education and awareness on waste

The deliberations of the conference came up with a list of practical actions which includes the following:

  • the development of guidelines for budgeting for waste services to help municipalities to do full cost accounting
  • municipalities need to develop Integrated Waste Management Plans (IWMPs) and ensure alignment with the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) and budgeting process
  • municipalities could utilise the tariff model that is being developed by DEA
  • treasury to achieve full cost accounting for waste services
  • sharing of information amongst municipalities on labour intensive collection models that work.
  • improvement of enforcement and train and designate Environmental Management Inspectors at local government level
  • the designation of WMOs
  • municipalities must use local communication mediums to strengthen awareness
  • municipalities to render capacity building programmes for staff and also appoint people with the relevant qualifications and experience.
  • DEA must engage with the DTI to conduct market value for recyclable waste to local, regional and international markets
  • DEA to report back on the amendments to the threshold for licensing requirements for recycling
  • municipalities need to customise the DEA model by–law as they deem appropriate
  • the orientation programme for politicians must include information and training on effective waste management (SALGA).

The conference concluded that there were some areas that needed more focus and where there has been minimal progress, the conditions require immediate intervention.

 [back to top] 

Outlook of the 3rd WMO Khoro

The two previous conferences have made it clear that the effective and efficient management of waste is fundamental to the sustainability of any society. The provision of waste services must incorporate efficient use of available resources (financial and human capital), as well as accelerate job creation which is one of government’s top priority.

The main theme for the 3rd WMO Khoro is:

“Creating Jobs and Increasing Efficiencies in the delivery of Waste Services”.

The 3rd WMO Khoro will be held in the East London International Convention Centre, Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape Province from 8th to 9th October 2012. The main focus of the 3rd WMO Khoro will be on the budgeting and actual costing of waste management services, the promotion of the waste hierarchy, acceleration of public awareness on waste management, best practices in management of waste disposal sites, creation of job opportunities for the youth in waste management and the development of Integrated Waste Management Plans. They key words being efficiency (utilisation the available resources in a manner that will cover more ground) and job creation (using labour intensive models in the delivery of waste services). All of these must be done taking into consideration the legal requirements, planning aspects as well as a need to create awareness and involve the public in dealing with waste management challenges.

  • Conference proceedings

    The conference will commence with the address by various principals from the DEA and the host Province and followed by sitting of the plenary session that will address the institutional arrangements for waste management in local government. Institutional issues include current, intended legislation and human resources and the extent to which it may impact on effective waste management.

  • Institutional arrangements: plenary discussion

    The Department, along with provincial department and municipalities, often support projects and programme which seek to improve waste management and extent services to unserviced areas. There is a need to ensure that such initiatives are sustained through institutional structures in the employ of municipalities who will take the work forward. Furthermore, with population and growth and the growing need to service more areas, there is a need to ensure that municipalities have structures and human resources with proper qualification and skills to plan and provide these services. Waste management is currently regarded as a community services, however, due to the technical nature of some of the work within waste management, there is a need to ensure that waste is treated as a 6 technical service and employ people with the necessary skills to run for example; waste disposal sites etc.

In view of the above, there is a need to review institutional arrangements in most municipalities as most of them inherited their structures from the old systems and never reviewed. Although it is acknowledged that there is no fixed model for this, each municipality will need to take into account their own specific capacity, challenges and available resources. There is a need to effectively utilise the provisions of the Municipal Systems Act, 2000, which provides for utilisation of various institutional options and be realistic in choosing the most cost effective and sustainable options.

The conference should explore all these mechanisms, the support required by municipalities in this matter and map a way forward. It should also look at best practice examples from municipalities who have reviewed their institutional arrangements and get lessons learnt as well as challenges experienced, in a view to share with other municipalities. This should be coupled with a need to designate Waste Management Officers (WMOs) in areas where this has not happened, since this is a requirement in terms of section 10 of the Waste Act.

 [back to top] 


  • Thematic areas (Commission discussions)

    In order to facilitate the discussions, the main theme of the conference will be divided into the following six thematic areas for discussion to ensure that all concerns and solutions relating to creating jobs and increasing efficiencies in the delivery of waste services are attended to:

1. Full cost accounting and efficient budgeting for waste services

Status quo: Costs and tariffs in municipalities have been found to be initiated from an unknown base by applying a general percentage increase. Most municipalities charge generic rates which have not been informed by the costs of providing waste services. There is generally low revenue collection rate and in some cases, the systems used are not efficient. The available budget for waste services is often redirected to other services and more expensive service delivery models are utilised in some instances, making it difficult for municipalities to extend services to other areas.
  • Lack of sufficient funds for maintenance of waste management infrastructure
  • Lack of models to deal with tariffs, costing and budgeting for waste services
  • Poor administration of waste management matters
  • Set tariffs are not consistent with services provided
  • Generate revenue through waste services rendered by effectively employing accurate models for charging.
  • Slightly increase disposal fees to discourage disposal of waste whilst ensuring that illegal dumping is not promoted

Discussion items:

  • Identify challenges in capacity for financial management in waste services
  • Costing, budgeting and tariff models as benchmarks for South African waste services provided by Municipalities
  • Pricing of waste services that will discourage from disposal of waste by landfill.
  • Explore other finding models (schemes) available to municipalities

Expected results:

The conference should come up with actions to be taken in improving efficient budgeting and costing of waste services as well as possible ways for accessing other funding mechanisms for waste services. 

2. Promoting recycling and separation at source

Status quo: Initially disposal of waste by landfill was mostly preferred; however upon the promulgation of the Waste Act in 2009 and later the National Waste Management Strategy in 2011 the government took upon a new approach to divert waste from landfill. The focus now is to ensure implementation of the waste management hierarchy by instituting separation at source initiatives across the country. The National Domestic Waste Collection Standards also requires waste to be separated at source to ensure that clean recyclables are collected.

  • Waste collection systems from various municipalities do not encourage at source separation and recycling.
  • Availability of recycling and separation at source infrastructure.
  • Diminishing landfill air space and suitable land for disposal
  • Environmental and health impacts associated with disposal of waste
  • Both waste collection and the recycling industry make meaningful contributions to job creation and GDP and more can be achieved.
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities for communities in the recycling sector.
  • With global awareness on greening, some sectors of society already have a will to participate in recycling and therefore waiting for government to drive this.

Discussion items:

  • Partnership between government and the private sector with regards to funding of recycling and separation at source projects.
  • Increase of the recycling economy in the country
  • Mechanism to increase awareness in the communities
  • Other mechanisms for diversion of waste
  • Systems required for effective separation at source initiatives and the associated costs

Expected results:

The conference should explore the different mechanisms for instituting separation at source including kerbside collection, buy back centres and other communal collection schemes, and what systems are required to run a successful project and get high participation rate.

3. Accelerating public awareness on waste

Staus quo: The National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) has prioritised public education and awareness and seeks to involve communities to actively participate in the implementation of the new approach in waste management. Waste collection and matters involving waste management has been perceived to be duties for Municipalities by communities. Hence awareness and education initiatives in communities and including of waste management in schooling curriculum will encourage positive response and action, thereby putting the responsibility to all citizens.

  • Lack of coordination of messaging from national, provincial and local spheres of government
  • Continuity in education and awareness programmes or projects
  • Continual monitoring and assessment of interventions
  • Capacitating communities through education and awareness interventions has long term gains for both the environment and the health of lives in communities
  • The available media (including social media, print and visual) can be utilised to effectively create awareness in a sustained manner.

Discussion items:

  • Progress evaluation and reporting of the education and awareness campaigns
  • Lessons learnt in areas where awareness programmes have been implemented
  • Education and awareness curriculum on various aspects waste management
  • Various models used for awareness raising and the associated costs

Expected results:

The conference should explore various models for public awareness and maximise on lessons learnt, explore various models available and the partnerships which government can establish with the private sector and a need to alignment of messaging in the country.

4. Best practice in management of waste disposal sites

Status quo: South Africa has few adequate and compliant landfills and hazardous waste management facilities; a situation that hinders the safe disposal of all waste streams. A significant number of waste handling facilities are not authorized to operate and a big percentage of these unlicensed sites are owned by municipalities. Some of the licensed facilities are not operated in accordance with the licence conditions and minimum requirement for waste disposal through landfill.

  • Limited technical capacity for operation of waste disposal facilities
  • Lack of sufficient funds
  • Lack of suitable land and diminishing landfill air space
  • Landfills are not prioritized in the plans of the municipality
  • Lack of proper and effective management of landfills
  • Outdated and unmaintained equipment
  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Capacity building
  • Continuity plans
  • Share best practice models

Discussion items:

  • Identify challenges in the organizational structures to accommodate landfill managers
  • Requirements for proper waste disposal (what should be in place-focusing of softer issues)
  • Identify and explore best practices models
  • Explore Public Private Partnerships

Expected results:

The conference should come up with key factors for efficient and effective waste disposal; resources required by municipalities, continued capacity building mechanisms and required support.

5. Mainstreaming youth jobs in waste management

Status quo: South Africa has a high percentage of unemployment and of that the majority is youth. The effective involvement of young people in environmental activities has the potential advantages and spin-offs. The potential benefits include enhanced environmental protection and employment opportunities; and also offer the opportunity for transfer of skills and knowledge to enable young members of the society to become more productive. The involvement of young people in waste management further enhances public participation and promotes environmental awareness.

Commitment and investment in young people can be a viable option for addressing environmental problems and providing job and career opportunities for the unemployed.

Labour intensive mechanisms and independent waste management services provide an opportunity to create jobs throughout the value chain of waste management.

The objective of the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) provides an opportunity to stimulate job creation and to broaden participation by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and marginalized communities.

  • Inappropriate perception or stigma attached to waste or refuse
  • Attracting young people into waste management
  • Lack of funds
  • Sustainability of projects


  • Lessons learnt can influence the course of future developments
  • To harness the energy and enthusiasm of young people to address environmental concerns
  • Empower communities through self- employment
  • Explore the concept of social capital
  • Make the career field in waste management better understood and interesting

Discussion items:

  • Labour intensive models and community based waste collection methods
  • Identify and explore best practices models
  • New markets for recycling of waste
  • Formalising jobs in the recycling value chain
  • How can young people be seen as a resource for the management of waste and be intentionally introduced in the management of waste within municipalities

Expected results:

The conference should look at obtaining the buy-in of municipalities to use labour intensive and community- based waste collection methods, explore other labour intensive opportunities in the whole waste life cycle (including storage, collection, transportation, recycling, cleansing and disposal).

6. Maximizing the integrated waste management planning regime

Status quo: Municipalities are currently faced with challenges of backlogs in the waste collection services, non maintenance and aging equipment, increase in human settlements, non-payment for services, lack of airspace in landfills to name a few. Proper waste management requires a well-coordinated approach by all three spheres of government. Integrated waste Management Plans (IWMPs), a legislative requirement for certain organs of the state in the Waste Act offer local municipalities (as primary waste management services providers) an opportunity to plan and prioritise effective and efficient waste management services.

To ensure that IWMPs are prioritized in municipalities it is necessary that these plans form part of the Integrated Development Plans of municipalities as the plans must be outcome focused, include priorities, objectives, targets, implementation and financing arrangements and must be realistic to the specific circumstances in each area.

Challenges: jay 
  • Drafting measurable outcome based IWMPs
  • Aligning IWMPs with IDPs
  • Capacity required to ensure effective IWMPs
  • IWMPs only focusing on the status qua analysis and action plan without following the whole process.
  • Lack of implementation and reporting


  • Capacity building to draft measurable outcome based IWMPs
  • Alignment with requirements of the Waste Act
  • Improve the status quo of waste management services
  • Give effect to best waste management practices
  • Elevating the level of waste management issues on the agenda of local government

Discussion items:

  • Guidance on how IWMPs should be developed
  • Identify challenges that hamper municipalities to give effect to their IWMPs
  • Best IWMPs and their implementation (best practices)
  • Reporting mechanisms and alignment with the IDP processes

Expected results:

The conference should explore the real process for development of target focused, measurable and outcome based second generation IWMPs, alignment with the new legal provisions in the Waste Act and explores mechanisms to ensure that these Plans are implemented for the improvement of waste services. Municipalities should buy-in in the development of IWMPs and to view the plan as a basic tool to enhance waste management services in their areas of jurisdiction.


Efficient management of waste is a major challenge for municipalities in South Africa. The complexity of the challenges calls for a comprehensive and multisectoral approach with a proactive dimension in order to reduce not only the amount of waste generated, but also to redirect the minds and behaviours of communities towards a new level of positive participation in improving and maintaining a healthy, ecologically protected and aesthetically satisfactory environment.

The Waste Management Officers (WMO) Khoro as an annual conference of all government institutions dealing with waste aims to provide a platform for WMOs in the three spheres of government to share information and exchange thoughts, strengthen capacity and streamline the institutional framework across government entities to enhance effective life cycle waste management. More importantly, the provision of waste management services provides options for expanding the current employment and business opportunities in waste management by recognising social capital in communities and institutionalising the informal players in the waste sector. This will not only lead to increased job opportunities, but also to improved and increased waste management service delivery.

 [back to top]