Ethiopian Business Review

Creating Clean, Green Addis

An effectively functioning city responsibly carries out its day-to-day activities. Well planned infrastructures provided to accommodate these daily activities, such as movement, and socialization. Addis Ababa is not able to efficiently satisfy the urban status-quo because of the lack of these infrastructures such as hygiene and proper waste management systems, among others.  

Addis’ mega-city structures have failed to consider comprehensive planning for functional infrastructures including designing a properly working waste management system for its solid and liquid wastes. An insubstantial handling mechanism for wastes indicates the population’s detachment from the fruits of civilization.

In general, the main challenges of the urban hygiene could be summarized as externalized belongingness and squalor of vehicular and pedestrian routes, considering open spaces as places of garbage disposal, and a total lack of awareness of the damage that happens on the city’s dwelling, socio-economic and ecological environment at the cost of degradation of public health, resulting in a gradual shift and loss of urban identity and heritage.
Of course, the existence of formal and informal systems of waste collection can be identified as strength. Yet, when it comes to efficiency, there is a mixed result.

Addis Ababa generates per capita solid waste of 0.4 kilograms per day. This means, more than 200,000 tons of solid waste is collected each year and about 550 tons per day. According to the data from the city administration in 2010, out of the total solid waste generated, organic waste accounts for 60Pct, recyclables 15Pct (metal, wood, tyres, electricity products, old shoes and plastic) and the rest 25Pct is labeled as others. Of the total waste generated, 76Pct comes from households, 18Pct from institutions, commercial, factories, hotels, and six percent is from street sweeping.

The municipality is not involved in the recycling of waste and recyclable wastes are usually collected by the informal sector to be an input for local plastic, shoe and metal transforming cottage industries. Street boys, private sector enterprises and scavengers at municipal landfills take part in the sorting of wastes to recyclables. So, to be able to develop more places where recycling of waste can take place is important.

Up-cycling is something everyone can participate regardless of their age, sex, education, or location. So, the primary inception of awareness raising should began with a holistic redefinition of a waste, that a waste is a renewable source that can be treated, transformed and reused in the daily life cycle with significant environmental, social and economic benefits. Exploring opportunities to involve elementary and secondary school students in the concepts of reuse and up-cycling is effective for sustaining a healthy future.

Plans of any sort that do not integrate a solid legal foundation to reinforce the existing informal patterns of the city with a clear vision of future complacency simply complicate and postpone problems of urban continuity. Urban planning and existing informal systems should, therefore, be viewed as symbiotic, neither quite complete without the other. When this outlook is adopted, the due legitimacy for the functional informal systems can stir up the significance and role of their existence in achieving clean and green identity for the city.

Among some measures to implement the up-cycling system, the first is creating awareness about waste issues in the community and designing for reuse including change of perception about the variety of aesthetics, products, and structures that can be made from recovered materials. It includes telling the story of the shift that we are seeing in economic and waste management upgrade as part of the awareness creation.

The second measure should be engaging Pros: designers, educators, artisans, and builders around the topics of reuse, up-cycling, and smart design to explore ways in which salvaged materials can be more widely integrated into the design process and daily livelihood.

Seeking financial assistances and working spaces for the new up-cycling hubs of the city is the other measure that can be taken. However, site spotting is a task whose vindication to be justified by architects and urban planners. The government and other sponsoring organizations should also provide flexible funds in supporting the training facilities and clean up works at start up, until the established institution settles its financial status.

Establishing locations whereby artists, artisans, designers, and production businesses can bid on materials, propose new projects, and collaborate on upcycle design projects is also important on top of partnering with local charities and non-profit organizations on up-cycle projects that either directly benefits the organization or whose proceeds can be used to fund new projects.

8th Year • Apr.16 - May.15 2019 • No. 73


Nahom Gedeon

is an architect.
He can be reached at

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