The contribution of participatory engagement strategies to reliable data gathering and inclusive policies in developing countries: Municipal solid waste management data in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area of Ghana

Kwaku Oduro-Appiah*, Anne Scheinberg, Abraham Afful, Nanne de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The absence of participatory engagement strategies in the collection of solid waste management data in most developing countries affects reliability and deprives professional staff and local authorities of any clear basis for system modernization. This article addresses these challenges in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area of Ghana, by using participatory action research and systems analysis approaches, to engage a working group of relevant stakeholders to map material flows, assess socio-economic contributions, and chart a sustainable pathway towards informal waste sector integration. The data collected were analyzed statistically and the result is a seemingly simple statement: 1618 informal service providers and 646 informal recycling entrepreneurs are collecting 1370 tonnes per day, which is equivalent to 46% of municipal solid waste. In total they are recovering 85,653 tonnes of recyclables annually; achieving a 6.4% recycling rate, and saving the municipalities an estimated US$20 million in annual solid waste operations costs. Despite the critical mass of pointers to the benefits of this activity, integration of the informal sector remains a complex issue; and the fear of losing access to clients and materials remains a challenge to the sector. In response to the assessment, the working group has worked together with municipal officials and the related policy institution to elaborate recommendations for integration of the informal waste sector. The assessment suggests that the next step for decision-makers is to institutionalize inclusive waste and recycling policies, and to continue to collaborate with stakeholders to support the informal waste sector to sustain reliable data flows and to unleash their full potential as valued contributors to urban waste management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-746
Number of pages12
JournalAfrican Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development
Issue number6
Early online date23 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2021


  • 5 CITIES
  • Ghana
  • data
  • inclusive waste management policies
  • informal waste recycling
  • integration

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