Accepted paper:

Understanding the elephant in the room in African cities: Power and political configurations in waste management system in Lusaka City (Zambia)

Author:

Gilbert Siame (University of Zambia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses primary and secondary data to analyse the configurations of power and politics in waste management systems and how these create and sustain the waste crisis in Lusaka City. The paper argues that theorizing the urban needs to draw on power and politics in spatial theory.

Paper long abstract:

Solid Waste Management (SWM) is a challenging aspect of urban management in African cities as elsewhere in the urban global South. Solid waste in most African cities has emerged as a crisis for local communities, state and local governments, and environmental protection agencies. With most African cities rapidly urbanizing, managing waste has become a significant challenge and in need for prioritized action by stakeholders. Further, study of waste management practices and systems in African cities presents significant potential for a nuanced understanding of the role of power and politics in spatial configurations of urban systems. As of 2017, the Lusaka City Council (LCC) indicates that the City of Lusaka generates more than one million tons of waste annually and only about 30-40% of that is collected and taken to the officially designated dumpsite. When compared to waste management practices, successes and pitfalls in the region, Lusaka has a noticeable waste management crisis. This paper is based on both primary and secondary data to analyse the configurations of power and politics in waste management systems and how these create and sustain the waste crisis in the City. The paper uses empirical evidence on manifestations of power relations and political rationality to advance an argument that theorizing the urban needs to draw on the unfinished business of power and politics in spatial theory. The paper hopes to generate an intellectual debate more on power and political rationalities and less on technical capabilities in understanding urban crises and how to address them.

panel Env04
Spatial theory and African urban studies