Environmental Law and Policy in Namibia: Towards Making Africa the Tree of Life (Third Edition)



Katharina Ruppel-Schlichting

1 Introduction

Despite the fact that Namibia is a large country with a sparse population and the amount of solid waste generated is thus relatively low, major environmental challenges in Namibia, just as in Southern Africa in general are related to pollution control and waste management. ‘Pollution’ can be defined as “the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects.”1 A similar though more detailed definition of ‘pollution’ is for example provided by the Solid Waste Management Policy of the City of Windhoek, which defines pollution as

any change in the environment caused by –

  1. (a) any waste, substance or matter; or
  2. (b) noise, odour, dust or heat, emitted from or caused by any activity, including the storage or treatment of any waste, substance or matter, building and construction, and the provision of any service, whether engaged in by any person or an organ of state if that change has an adverse effect on public being or on the composition, resilience and productivity of a natural or managed ecosystem (both short term and long term), or on material useful to people, or will have such an adverse effect in the future.2

The term ‘waste’ is closely related to pollution but not identical. The characteristic of a ‘failure to use for its proper purpose’ is inherent to the term ‘waste’, which has thus been defined as

any substance or matter whether solid, liquid or any combination thereof, irrespective of whether it or any constituents thereof may have value or other use, and includes –

  1. any undesirable, rejected, abandoned or superfluous matter, material, residue of any process or activity, product, by-product;
  2. any matter which is deemed useless and unwanted;
  3. any matter which has been discarded, abandoned, accumulated or stored for the purposes of discarding, abandoning, processing, recovery, reuse, recycling or extracting a usable product from such matter; or
  4. products that may contain or generate a gaseous component which may originate from residential, gardening, business, commercial, trade, industrial, educational, agricultural, medical, building and demolition activities, and any other activities, and further includes industrial waste, hazardous waste and health care risk waste.3

While pollution does not necessarily need to be caused by waste it can also be caused by other pollutants. Waste – if handled correctly – does not necessarily cause pollution. As from a legal and statutory point of view, many provisions that apply to pollution also apply to waste, whereas in many cases specific statutes deal with waste.

Pollution control and waste management are essential in environmental protection as pollution and waste are a threat to human health, plant and animal life and ecological systems. Ensuring proper waste management is crucial to a broad spectrum of human rights such as the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation and to a clean and satisfactory environment to name but a few. Preventing and managing pollution must thus be considered as a priority issue, especially in the light of the rising quality of life, high rates of resource consumption patterns and industrialisation.

A 2012 World Bank Report4 provides the following alarming figures: While ten years ago there were 2.9 billion urban residents who generated about 0.64 kg of municipal solid waste per person per day (0.68 billion tonnes per year) it is estimated that today these amounts have increased to about 3 billion residents generating 1.2 kg per person per day (1.3 billion tonnes per year). By 2025 this is likely to increase to 4.3 billion urban residents generating about 1.42 kg/capita/day of municipal solid waste (2.2 billion tonnes per year). Although data is particularly lacking for Sub-Saharan Africa, the report estimates that waste generation is approximately 62 million tonnes per year (likely to increase to 161 million tonnes by 2025), spanning a wide range from 0.09 to 3.0 kg per person per day with an average of 0.65 kg per capita per day. The data for Namibia provided in the report is calculated using a per capita rate of 0.5kg per capita per day. Based on this, Namibia, with a population of 2,104,900 generates 1,052 tonnes per day, corresponding to 383,980 tonnes per year.

The aforementioned facts call for an efficient legal framework in order to limit pollution and waste to an absolute minimum. Ecosystems can only be protected and utilised optimally where an efficient legal framework is supported by an effective administrative system. Against this background integrated pollution control acknowledges that the environment functions as a whole which requires a holistic approach which integrates legal, institutional and scientific instruments.

2 Legal and Policy Framework

The following section shall provide a broad overview of the most relevant legislation dealing with pollution control and waste management. As a starting point it can be stated, that Namibia’s legal framework dealing with the aforementioned substantive matters is fragmented, partially outdated, incomplete and sectoral rather than integrated.5

2.1 International Law

A broad range of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) are pertinent to pollution control and waste. Owing to the fact that pollution knows no boundaries, a rich body of international law conventions deals – directly or indirectly – with transboundary pollution. Among the prominent relevant conventions to which Namibia is a party are the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (1989).

With regard to transboundary pollution the legal and policy framework of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to which Namibia is a party, also contains some relevant provisions. The SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems for example provides that permits must be acquired before discharging any and all types of wastes into shared waters, provided that the intended discharge will not have a detrimental effect on the watercourse system; member states must furthermore take all measures necessary to prevent the introduction of alien aquatic species into a shared watercourse system which may have detrimental effects on the ecosystem; and agreements should be reached on water control and utilisation in shared watercourse systems including the regulation of the flow and drainage.6 In the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses, the prevention, reduction and control of pollution has been expanded to include lists of substances, which may not be introduced into the waters of a shared watercourse, and calls for the joint setting of water quality objectives. The SADC Protocol on Health contains a provision on environmental health, which seeks for cooperation among member states in addressing regional environmental health issues and other concerns, including toxic waste, waste management, port health services, pollution of air, land and water, and the degradation of natural resources.7

But not only MEAs, also judgements of international judicial bodies shape the body of international environmental law related to pollution and waste. One example includes one of the most prominent international environmental law cases, namely theTrail Smelter Arbitration (US v Canada) which deals with trans-boundary pollution8 . Another relevant dicta refers to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body dealing with imports of re-treaded tyres(EC v Brazil)9 .

2.2 Pollution under the Constitution

The Namibian Constitution does not provide for an environmental clause directly relevant to pollution. However, the provisions generally relevant for environmental protection, namely Article 91(c), which assigns to the Ombudsman the duty to investigate complaints concerning the over-utilisation of living natural resources, the irrational exploitation of non-renewable resources, the degradation and destruction of ecosystems and failure to protect the beauty and character of Namibia; and Article 95(l), which commits the state to actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies aimed at the maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis. In particular, Article 95(l) requires Government to provide measures against dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory.

2.3 Common Law Aspects of Pollution

Common law provides a broad range of principles related to pollution control and waste management. The branches of criminal law, the law of delict and the law of nuisance all highly relevant in the context of pollution and waste.

An actionable delict can be given in cases of pollution provided that:10

The law of nuisance with its three distinct types of nuisance, namely public nuisance, private nuisance and statutory nuisance may be applied in the context of pollution and typically result in an interdict (to refrain from establishing a threatening nuisance or from continuing an existing nuisance) or in an action for damages.11

In many cases national statutory law such as the Environmental Management Act (EMA) or specific waste legislation does, however, offer more specific provisions to address environmental concerns than the body of common law principles.

2.4 Framework Legislation: The Environmental Management Act No. 7 of 2007 (EMA)

Pollution control and waste management within the EMA (which is in force since 6 February 2012) are predominantly anchored within its Section 3 on the principles of environmental management, which guide the implementation of EMA and any other law relating to environmental protection, serve as the general framework for environmental plans and as guidelines for any organ of state when making any decision in terms of the EMA or any other law relating to the protection of the environment. In fact, all of the principles stipulated in Section 3(2) apply to pollution and waste, at least to some extent. However, of particular relevance are the principles (h) to (j) of Section 3(2), which provide as follows:

(h) the option that provides the most benefit or causes the least damage to the environment as a whole, at a cost acceptable to society, in the long term as well as in the short term must be adopted to reduce the generation of waste and polluting substances at source;

(i) the reduction, re-use and recycling of waste must be promoted;

(j) a person who causes damage to the environment must pay the costs associated with rehabilitation of damage to the environment and to human health caused by pollution, including costs for measures as are reasonably required to be implemented to prevent further environmental damage.

In Section 5 EMA empowers the Minister of Environment and Tourism to declare a site to be a waste disposal site and provides that waste or dispose may not be discarded or caused to be discarded except at a disposal site. Contraventions are an offence and fines not exceeding N$500 000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 25 years or both may be imposed.

According to Section 27(1) of the EMA, the Minister of Environment and Tourism may list activities, which may not be undertaken without an environmental clearance certificate. Article 27(2) exemplarily lists various fields in which an environmental clearance certificate may be required. The most relevant ones with regard to waste and pollution are the areas of (b) water use and disposal; and (i) waste and sewage disposal and chemical treatment. A list of activities, which may not be undertake without an environmental clearance certificate has been drafted by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and published by respective notice in the Government Gazette.12 Specific activities beneficial with regard to pollution control and waste management that may not be undertaken without environmental clearance certificate have been listed relate to activities in the following sectors:

As to waste management, treatment, handling and disposal activities, the list of activities requiring an environmental clearance certificate stipulates the following:

The Minister of Environment and Tourism as per Article 56 of the EMA has the competence to make regulations relating various issues of environmental concern, including the requirements for listing or delisting of activities in terms of Section 27; what constitutes an activity for purposes of listing or delisting in terms of Section 27; and to the disposal of certain types of waste. Most importantly, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism under Section 56 of the EMA has drafted regulations regarding Environmental Impact Assessment.13

At this stage, the EMA together with the Environmental Assessment Policy and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations form the basis of Namibia’s approach to pollution control and waste management. Moreover, sectoral legislation applies as will be outlined in the following.

2.5 Sectoral Legislation

2.5.1 The Pollution Control and Waste Management Bill

As stated above, the legal framework relating to pollution control and waste management is varied and patchy. This is not only problematic in terms of the variety of laws which sometime reflect overlaps and regulatory gaps. Another major concern is the multitude of administering bodies involved. Where some of the laws and policies are administered by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, others mandate action from the Ministry of Health and Social Services; the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development; the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication; the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing. In other cases, local authorities are responsible for enforcing certain laws. The collection and disposal of waste is the responsibility of local and regional authorities.

Once signing into law the envisaged Pollution Control and Waste Management Act would be a major step towards ensuring a more effective instrument drawing together the waste management and pollution control functions from all ministries involved. However, this draft piece of legislation has been in preparation for more than fifteen years. Apparently, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is currently in the processes of reviewing and harmonising both, the EMA as well as the Pollution Control and Waste Management Bill with a particular focus on potentially conflicting provisions within both legal instruments. It is not clear at this stage, whether the review will result in an incorporation of the bill into the EMA or whether both pieces of legislation will remain separate documents. Regarding enforcement of the law it is envisaged to involve conservation scientists (environmental inspectors).14

2.5.2 The Public and Environmental Health Bill

In 2014, the Minister of Health and Social Services introduced the Public and Environmental Health Bill15 in order to promote public health and wellbeing; prevent injuries, diseases and disabilities; protect individuals and communities from public health risks; encourage community participation in order to create a healthy environment; and to provide for early detection of diseases and public health risks. The Bill contains several provisions relevant for environmental protection. With a view to water and food safety, the Bill formulates a duty of local authorities to provide and maintain as far as may be reasonably possible, a sufficient supply of potable water for drinking and domestic purposes.16 Furthermore, the Bill addresses integrated waste management and stipulates among others that in order to prevent environmental pollution and public health risks, local authorities must ensure that all waste generated is collected, disposed of and recycled in accordance with the requirements of all laws governing the management of the different waste streams.17 Health nuisances are addressed in Part 10 of the Bill, in which specific health nuisances are identified, including among others polluted sources of water supply, the accumulation or deposit of refuse, which is injurious or dangerous to health and other conditions which are offensive, injurious or dangerous to health. According to Section 68, the Minister may require the preparation of public and environmental health plans.

2.5.3 The Soil Conservation Act No. 76 of 1969

The Soil Conservation Act dates back to 1969 and was made applicable in Namibia with effect from 1 April 1971 by Act 38 of 1971. This Act is another important legal document with regard to pollution as it covers the prevention and combating of soil erosion, the conservation, improvement and manner of use of the soil and vegetation, and the protection of water sources.18 As per the Act, the Minister has the power to declare directions applicable with reference to land conservation and may order construction of soil conservation works. Soil Conservation Committees may be established under this Act to advise the Minister, owner or occupier of land on all matters relating to soil conservation.

2.5.4 The Hazardous Substances Ordinance 14 of 1974

This ordinance provides for the control of toxic substances and thus also relevant for pollution control. It covers the control of hazardous substances, as well as their manufacture, sale, use, disposal, dumping, import and export.

2.5.5 The Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Ordinance 11 of 1976

The Atmospheric Pollution Ordinance of 1976 pertinent to the prevention of air pollution with particular focus on public health contains detailed provisions on air pollution. The Ordinance deals with administrative appointments and their functions; the control of noxious or offensive gases; atmospheric pollution by smoke; dust control; motor vehicle emissions; and general provisions. As per the Ordinance, control areas can be established in order to control noxious or offensive gases or atmospheric pollution by smoke. So far, the Ordinance has been of minor practical relevance.

2.5.6 The Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Act No. 5 of 2005

The Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Act provides for protection of the environment of current and future generations against harmful effects of radiation. The Act regulates the control of the production, processing, handling, use, holding, storage, transport and disposal of radiation sources and radioactive materials, and radiation sources and nuclear materials. An Atomic Energy Board is established under the Act as well as a National Radiation Protection Authority. According to Section 43 of the Act, the Minister may make for the purpose of protection against environmental pollution, or of people against exposure to radiation, and for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of radiation sources make regulations prescribing the requirements with which radiation sources and any facilities or equipment used in connection therewith must comply.

2.5.7 The Minerals Prospecting and Mining Act No. 33 of 1992

This Act makes provisions for various types of licences relating to mining operations such as exclusive and non-exclusive prospecting licences, mining claims, mineral licences, reconnaissance licences, mineral deposit retention licences, and mining licences.19

The Act contains some relevant provisions for pollution control related to mining activities in the country. The Act not only provides that a holder of a licence claim must take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent or minimize any pollution of the environment,20 it also requires that the holder of a mineral licence must prepare an environmental impact assessment indicating the extent of any pollution of the environment before any mining activities can be carried out as well as an estimate of any pollution likely to be caused by the respective mining activity.21 The application for a mining licence must inter alia contain particulars “of the manner in which it is intended to prevent pollution, to deal with any waste, to safe guard the mineral resources, to reclaim and rehabilitate land disturbed by way of the prospecting operations and mining operations and to minimize the effect of such operations on land adjoining the mining area.”22 Under specific circumstances, the Minister has the power to reserve land from mining operations. Should the Minister for instance consider it necessary in terms of the protection of the environment or natural resources, he or she may declare that a mining activity may only be carried on with the special permission of the Minister.23 The Act furthermore provides that mineral licence holders are liable for any damage to land, water, plant or animal life caused by spilling or pollution and must take all such steps as may be necessary to remedy such spilling, pollution, loss or damage at his or her own costs.24

2.5.8 Water Related Legislation

For obvious reasons, pollution control also plays a major role in Namibia’s legislation related to water. Considering that Namibia is an arid country, which is dependent on limited groundwater and surface water, pollution control of this scarce natural resource must be of primary concern. Pollution of surface and groundwater by mismanagement of solid waste or other mechanisms has widespread and long term impacts which must be avoided. Major sources of water pollution include human and animal faecal material arising from inadequate sewage works or deposited directly on land or in water; poorly-managed or situated landfill sites; and pollution by agricultural and health pesticides. Selection and monitoring of waste disposal sites is another crucial factor. Waste disposal sites should not be situated next to flowing waters or Oshanas, so to avoid leak pollutants into the water or overflow during rains.

National water related legislation addresses water pollution through various channels. First of all, the EMA, the Environmental Assessment Policy and related regulations contain various provisions relevant for the protection of water resources from pollution. Water resource developments that may not be undertaken without environmental clearance certificate include the abstraction of ground or surface water for industrial or commercial purposes; any water abstraction from a river that forms an international boundary; construction of canals and channels including the diversion of the normal flow of water in a riverbed and water transfer schemes between water catchments and impoundments; the construction of dams, reservoirs, levees and weirs; the construction of industrial and domestic wastewater treatment plants and related pipeline systems; or irrigation schemes for agriculture excluding domestic irrigation.

The latest achievement in specific national water legislation was the promulgation of the Water resources Management Act No. 11 of 2013. The Act has been passed by Parliament, signed by the President and published in terms of the Namibian Constitution.25 The Act repeals both, the Water resources Management Act No. 24 of 2004 and the Water Act No. 54 of 1956 as a whole. However, the 2013 Water resources Management Act has not yet come into operation, as the Minister has not yet determined a date for the Act to come into operation as required by Section 134 of the Act. As the Water resources Management Act of 2004 has never come into operation ever since its promulgation, the only applicable law at this stage is the rather out-dated Water Act of 1956.

The Water Act of 1956 contains specific provisions with regard to the prevention of water pollution in Section 22. As a general rule, the person who has control over land on which any thing was or is done which involved or involves a substance capable of causing water pollution, must take steps to prevent any public or private water on or under that land, including rain water, or the sea from being polluted. Steps to prevent water pollution may also be taken by the Minister.26 Emergency action may be taken in cases of pollution incidents by the Director-General of Water Affairs and Forestry.27 Water pollution is an offence as per Section 23 of the Water Act. Moreover, the Minister may make regulations with regard to the prevention of water pollution, the Minister may for example draft regulations relating to the prevention of wastage or pollution of public water and private water, including underground water, of pollution of sea water, and of damage to the environment caused by water.28

One of the fundamental underlying principles of the 2013 Water resources Management Act is the “prevention of water pollution and implementation of the principle that a person disposing of effluent or waste has a duty of care to prevent pollution”. A further principle governing the Act is that “a polluter is liable to pay all costs to clean up any intentional or accidental spill of pollutants”.29 To this end, the Act devotes an entire part to water pollution control.30 Part 13 of the Act contains general provisions relating to water pollution and related liability and prohibits the discharge of wastewater, effluent or waste without licence and sets forth specific requirements for such licence.31

Besides the part on water pollution control, also other provisions are particularly relevant in terms of the protection of water resources: Water protection areas may be determined according to Sections 85 to 87 in order to

to protect and enhance any water resource, riverine habitat, watershed, ecosystem or other environmental resource that is at risk of significant changes to resource quality, depletion, contamination, extinction or disturbance from any source, including aquatic or terrestrial weeds.32

Provisions are made for water related emergency or pollution threats in Sections 88 and 89. The Minister may furthermore require water services providers and bulk water users to develop and adopt water services plans, including water conservation and water demand management strategies.

The Prevention and Combating of Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act No. 6 of 1981 amended by the Prevention and Combating of Pollution of the Sea by Oil Amendment Act No. 24 of 1991 provides for the prevention and combating of pollution of the sea by oil and determines liability in certain respects for loss or damage caused by the discharge of oil from ships, tankers or offshore installations. The general message of this Act is that the discharge of oil from a ship, tanker or offshore installation is prohibited. As a general rule the Act provides that the owner of any ship, tanker or offshore installation is liable for any loss or damage caused elsewhere than on such ship, tanker or offshore installation, in the area of Namibia by pollution resulting from the discharge of oil from such ship, tanker or offshore installation. According to Section 4 of the Act, the Minister is empowered to take steps to prevent pollution of the sea where oil is being or is likely to be discharged.

3 Waste Management in the City of Windhoek

The collection and disposal of waste is the responsibility of local and regional authorities. As stipulated by Section 94 of the Local Authorities Act No. 23 of 1992, a local authority council may, after consultation with the Minister responsible for Regional and Local Government and Housing make regulations by notice in the Gazette in relation to various areas relevant to pollution control and waste management, including the supply, distribution and use of water in its local authority area (including the protection from pollution of water);33 the regulation, protection and use of a system of sewerage and drainage;34 and “the provision, regulation and control for the removal or disposal of night soil, refuse, slop water, garden and stable litter and otherwise offensive or unhealthy matter”.35 Local authorities do thus play an important role in waste management and pollution control. In the bigger cities, this mandate has resulted in an improvement of the waste situation in the country. However, within rural communities, the handling of waste remains a major concern.

Despite the fact, that Windhoek has been considered one of the cleanest cities in Africa, environmental management in Windhoek is challenged by urbanisation as people from rural areas are increasingly populating Namibia’s capital in search of jobs and a higher standard of living. Population pressure is, no doubt, one of the factors that contribute to waste production and pollution. The City of Windhoek is committed to the principles of sound environmental management and in the promotion of improved quality of life for all residents of Windhoek by rendering environmental practices aiming to ensure a healthy, clean and secure environment for all residents, while at the same time creating an environment for socio-economic and sustainable development.36

Two documents form the foundation for waste management in the City of Windhoek, namely the Solid Waste Management Policy37 launched in October 2010 and the Waste Management Regulations gazetted in 2011.38 The formulation process of the Solid Waste Management Policy started as early as 2005 with the objective to streamline waste management operations and guarantee an integrated approach towards all waste management activities within the city.

Underlying principle of the Solid Waste Management Policy is the waste management hierarchy, according to which waste prevention and minimisation are the primary focus, followed by reducing, reusing and recycling of waste and disposal only as a last resort. Further principles governing the Solid Waste Management Policy include the principles of sustainable development;39 sustainable consumption and cleaner production;40 the polluter pays principle;41 the duty of care principle;42 and the best practical environmental option principle stating that any waste management activities must provide the most benefit for the least damage to the environment at an acceptable cost both in the long and short term. The vision of the Solid Waste Management Policy thus states:

The vision of the SWM Policy encompasses the concepts of integrating all required waste management activities based on the minimisation of pollution and waste across various sectors, as well as the management of waste activities in accordance with the Principles of the Integrated Waste Management Hierarchy. Through the SWM Policy, the City of Windhoek aims to maintain control over all waste management activities within its area of jurisdiction, including industrial, business, institutional and household levels.43

Specific objectives that have been laid down in the policy relating to legislative framework, political will and cooperative governance; waste minimisation, cleaner production and sustainable Consumption; optimisation of resources; integrated waste management planning; integrated waste information system; health care risk waste management strategy and plan; priority waste; capacity building through education and awareness raising; community participation in waste management activities; research and development; and best practice guidelines and standards.

The Solid Waste Management Regulations are the regulatory framework to enforce, promote and support the principles within the Solid Waste Management Policy. The regulations contain a detailed set of provisions dealing among others with the storage, collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of various kinds of wastes, including garden, bulky and household hazardous waste; builder’s waste; industrial, business waste and recyclable waste; hazardous waste; and health care risk waste. Further provisions relate to disposal sites and the selling and recycling of waste, which must be performed in compliance with occupational health and safety law; environmental law; health law; labour law; and other relevant law. Chapter 5 of the regulations spells out certain prohibitions in terms of accumulating waste, littering, dumping, abandoned articles and certain prohibited advertising. According to provisions contained in Chapter 6 of the regulations, certain types of waste may only be collected by a waste contractor in possession of a valid licence, issued by the Council. The regulations stipulate that any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provisions of the regulations commits an offence. Enforcement has been dealt with in Chapter 7 of the regulations. Waste inspectors are appointed by the Council to administer, implement and enforce any provisions of the regulations and any other waste management related regulations promulgated by the Council.

Solid waste generated in Windhoek is managed by the City of Windhoek’s Solid Waste Management Division (SWM). One general and hazardous waste landfill site and seven satellite landfill sites are operated in Windhoek. While general and hazardous waste is disposed at the Kupferberg landfill site, the disposal of garden refuse and building rubble is possible at the satellite landfill sites (in Havana, Olympia, Khomasdal, Pionierspark, Ludwigsdorf, Otjomuise and Eros).

At Kupferberg landfill site residents have to pay the solid waste management charge as well as through the tariffs charged to the users when disposing of waste at the site. Waste disposal approximately amounts to 6,500 tones per month for general waste and 450 tones per month for hazardous waste.44 The waste quantities for garden refuse and building rubble at the satellite landfill sites approximately amount to 7,500 m³ per month and 12,500 m³ per month respectively.45

At the Kupferberg landfill site, the waste is dumped and subsequently compacted with a trash compactor and covered with sand or soil to prevent flies, rodent, dogs and people from searching through the waste after it has been dumped. To prevent leakage of water that might form from the decomposing waste and to keep contaminants from leaking and polluting into underlying groundwater, the base of the landfill site consists of liners.

A recycling initiative has been launched by the City of Windhoek in cooperation with a private enterprise called Rent-A-Drum in 2010.46 The project encourages residents to separate their recyclables and has introduced the Clear Bag System (CBS) with which residents are required to separate paper, bottles, cans and plastics from the rest of their household waste for recycling. So far, approximately 60 tonnes of waste is recycled per month through the CBS, a figure that bears potential for improvement considering that in total, approximately 2,500 tonnes of waste is generated by households monthly47 and against the backdrop that Windhoek’s landfill and dumping sites are rapidly reaching maximum capacity. The collected recyclable waste is sorted, bailed and transported to available markets. Most of the recyclables are sold to South Africa or exported overseas; only a small market for recyclable plastics exists in Namibia.48

4 Concluding Remarks

In 2004, it has been stated that

in Namibia today, poor waste management practices pose the most serious and challenging environmental problems associates with infrastructure development and urban land-use planning. Waste products are increasing all the time due to the increasing population, particularly in urban areas, coupled with an increased standard of living and industrialisation. This places enormous strain on existing waste management activities such as collection, transportation, storage, and disposal. It is necessary, therefore, to develop more effective waste management programmes and sage waste disposal practices. Small municipalities, town councils and village councils in Namibia lack effective waste management practices covering collection, transportation and disposal programmes, mainly due to a lack of sufficient resources. There is an increasing acknowledgement by the public and authorities of the importance of adequate and effective waste collection and disposal.49

Until today, this statement remains true, at least to a large extent. Waste management is increasingly shifting into the public focus and is becoming an area of concern, interest and activity throughout the country. The regulatory framework developed by the City of Windhoek with its waste management hierarchy and integrated waste management approach is a commendable starting point for a cleaner environment on local level, provided that implementation and enforcement are effective. However, it is also being lamented that waste is becoming a serious concern in many towns, settlements, villages and in rural areas, especially in the northern parts of the country. Poorly managed waste not only affects the beauty of the country, thus negatively impacting the tourism industry. It is also becoming a serious threat for the environment with and negative effect on people’s health.50 This is also reflected in more recent studies on waste management in Namibia. A study on waste management in the three northern towns of Oshakati, Ongwediva and Ondangwa concludes that the general waste management practice in these towns

is not in the line with international solid waste management standards neither with the national laws of waste management. Waste is being treated as waste and people are not always aware of the benefits related to the proper waste management. There is limited understanding of the harm that waste can cause to the environment, diseases caused to people and to animals and also the potential benefits, such as income that can be generated from recycled goods and the reuse or selling of the used products.51

Pollution control and waste management are serious environmental challenges for Namibia that need to be addressed by a sound and harmonised legal and policy framework, awareness raising through education and information, active involvement of the public and private sector, and, last but not least, by sufficient financial and human resources to ensure effective implementation and enforcement.

On a more positive note, waste does not only provide challenges, but more and more opportunities, especially when investigating the nexus between waste and energy. We live in an innovative age and recycling doesn’t just have to be urban (plastics etc). Agricultural examples elsewwhereinter alia relate to self-sustainable biogas plants. In order to make this work, however, further consolidated law and policy may be needed.


1 See Oxford Dictionary for Advanced Learners.

2 See the introductory definitions section of the Solid Waste Management Policy of the City of Windhoek.

3 Ibid.

4 Hoornweg / Bhada-Tata (2012:x).

5 This was the summarising finding of a Baseline Study on pollution control and waste management conducted by the Polytechnique of Namibia as early as 2001. Not much has happened since. Although the Environmental Management Act has eventually been signed into law, the Draft Pollution Control and Waste Management Act is still in the preparation stage.

6 See Article 2 of the SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems.

7 Article 23 of the Protocol on Health.

8 Trail Smelter Arbitration (1938/1941) 3 RIAA 1905 Arbitral Tribunal: US and Canada. The smelter in Trail, British Columbia, operated by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (COMINCO) and had processed lead and zinc since 1896. Smoke from the smelter caused damage to forests and crops in the surrounding area and also across the Canada–US border in Washington. The smoke from the smelter distressed residents, resulting in complaints to COMINCO and demands for compensation. The dispute between the smelter operators and affected landowners could not be resolved, resulting in the case being sent to an arbitration tribunal. Negotiation and resulting litigation and arbitration was settled in 1941.

9 WT/DS332 Panel and Appellate Body Report adopted on 17 December 2007. Seehttp://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds332_e.htm; accessed 30 January 2014. In 2005, the EC requested consultations with Brazil regarding its imposition of measures that adversely affected exports of re-treaded tyres from the EC to the Brazilian market. The EC challenged the ban as a violation of WTO rules, whereas Brazil claimed that the imports of re-treaded tyres led to a faster accumulation of waste tyres and defended the measure as necessary to protect health and the environment.

10 For more details see Glazewski (2014:20-7 to 20-24).

11 Ibid.

12 See Government Gazette No. 4878 (2012), Notice No. 29.

13 See Government Gazette No. 4878 (2012), Notice No. 30.

14 See Ngatjiheue (2015a).

15 The Bill is available at http://www.parliament.na/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=category&id=58:bills-2014&Itemid=1269 ; accessed 16 September 2015

16 Sections 45 to 49.

17 Sections 51 to 55.

18 Section 2.

19 For more details see the Chapter on Mining in this book.

20 Section 41(1)(e).

21 Section 50(f)(i).

22 Section 91(f)(iii).

23 Section 122(2)(b).

24 Section 130.

25 See Government Notice No. 332 of 2013, Government Gazette No. 5367.

26 Section 22A.

27 Section 22B.

28 Section 26.

29 Section 3(k) and (l).

30 Part 13.

31 Section 70.

32 Section 85.

33 Section 94(1)(a) of the Act. Such Regulations have for example been made by the City of Windhoek General Notice No. 16 by the Windhoek Municipality on Waste Management Regulations: Local Authorities Act, 1992 Government Gazette No. 4650 (2011) and the Town Council of Oranjemund, see General Notice No. 269 by the Oranjemund Town Council, Waste Management Regulations: Local Authorities Act, 1992 Government Gazette No. 5767 (2915); or the Ondangwa Town Council, see Waste Management Regulations: Local Authorities Act, 1992 General Notice No. 169 Government Gazette 5726 (2015).

34 Section 94(1)(b) of the Act.

35 Section 94(1)(c) of the Act.

36 See Hasheela (2009).

37 City of Windhoek (2010).

38 See General Notice No. 16 by the Windhoek Municipality on Waste Management Regulations: Local Authorities Act, 1992 Government Gazette No. 4650 (2011).

39 Defined as development that meets the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their needs.

40 Sustainable consumption is described as a concept based on the continuous improvement of processes; housekeeping, raw material input and products to increase efficiency, whilst reducing the potential impact to the environment and human health, while cleaner production encompasses two key features, namely that to purchase and use only what is required to satisfy human need favouring a good quality of life through decent but not decadent standards of living; and to looking at the “cradle to grave” cycle of a product in terms of performance when purchasing in order to make more “waste-wise” choices.

41 Which transfers the burden of the cost for integrated and therefore environmentally and socially responsible waste management to the polluter in terms of costs associated with the rehabilitation of the natural environment and human health caused by the pollution.

42 The duty of care principle requires every generator of waste to be responsible for the fate of their waste as soon as it has been generated.

43 See Vision of the Solid Waste Management Policy, City of Windhoek (2010).

44 See http://solidwastemanagement.org.na/landfill-satellite-sites/kupferberg-general-and-hazardous-landfill-site ; accessed 28 August 2015.

45 See http://solidwastemanagement.org.na/landfill-satellite-sites/satellite-lanfill-sites; accessed 28 August 2015.

46 Rent-A-Drum is a privately owned Namibian company active in waste management in Namibia, which offers service to Namibian corporations, mines and smaller companies, including the citizens of Windhoek. Rent-A-Drum has branches in Oshakati, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund (where an new waste sorting plant has just recently begun operations), the Husab Mine, and Windhoek.

47 Seehttp://solidwastemanagement.org.na/recycling-initiative; accessed 28 August 2015.

48 See Croset (2014:23).

49 See MET (2006:85).

50 See Heinrich (2015).

51 Mughal (2014:11).