Public Service Day 2023 Celebration "Honouring Waste Management Services in Africa: Peer Learning between Mayors and Workers' Representatives"

26 Jun 2023 Rabat, Morocco 26 Jun - 26 Jun

Public Service Day 2023 Celebration "Honouring Waste Management Services in Africa: Peer Learning between Mayors and Workers' Representatives"

  • 26 Jun - 26 Jun
  • Rabat, Morocco

14:00 - 17:30 WAT

On the occasion of the celebration of International Public Service Day (23 June), United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) and Public Services International (PSI) are organising a virtual conference on "Celebrating and honouring workers in the household waste sector: peer learning between Mayors and Workers Representatives".

Join us in this online activity which arises from the regional-level social dialogue table the PSI Africa Region and UCLG Africa are building based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two organisations.

This activity will honour the value and public service of waste collection and management services in our cities, towns and territories, a vital frontline public service essential for the protection of public health, the environment and local economies that is, regardless undervalued, underfunded and understaffed with specific challenges for Local and Regional Government (LRG)  workers and employers in the African Region.

The activity stems from a previous PSI Africa / UCLG Africa dialogue that took place on 9-10 May 2023 in Casablanca, 22050, Kingdom of Morocco, where partners identified five key cities in which to advance employer-worker dialogue and cooperation to enhance the quality and equitability of waste service delivery, and pilot peer learning activities.

These cities are  (1) Casablanca – Morocco (2) Abuja, Nigeria (3) N'Djaména, Tchad (4)  Ilala, Tanzania (5) Mazabuka City Council, Zambia (6) Eswatini .

The event will be held online on Monday 26 June 14:00-17:30 Rabat time (UTC+1).

Register here

A vision for Africa

“Extending regular and reliable waste collection services to all. Safe disposal of residual waste to sanitary engineered landfills, while maximizing the recovery of secondary resources from these waste streams through social and technological innovations appropriate for Africa”.

United Nations Environment Programme

Context & Rationale

Today, mankind generates over 2.01 billion tons of household waste every year[1]. This volume of waste is set to increase as the world's population continues to grow and, above all, as living conditions improve, affecting lifestyles and consumption patterns, inevitably leading to an increase in household waste. According to the World Bank, global waste production is set to increase by 70% by 2050[2].

In Africa, a continent that is undergoing a major social, economic, ecological, cultural and digital transformations as a result of its demographic explosion, the urbanization of its territories, and changes in the production and consumption habits of its population. Such transformations inevitably leads to significant growth in waste production, putting a strain on public and private waste management services and infrastructures that are already under pressure[3]. According to “Forbes” Magazine (2015), 16 of the 25 dirtiest cities in the world are in Africa, a continent where landfills are full to bursting, where toxic materials, electronic and chemical equipment mix with household waste, and where as much garbage lies in archaic infrastructures as in nature or on the streets. Among the countries most affected by this phenomenon are Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Congo, Tchad, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and Nigeria. 

In most African countries, the household waste collection rate remains very low (below 55%), in addition to the illegal dumping of uncollected waste[4]. This waste comes either from homes, administrative buildings, shops, hospitals and factories, or is sometimes imported from other countries. Much of it is generated in urban centers and their catchment areas. 

Although waste production is currently lower in Africa than in developed countries, sub-Saharan Africa is set to become the world's dominant region in terms of total waste production if current trends continue. Waste production in Africa, as in other developing regions of the world, is fueled by demographic growth (the urban population in Africa is growing at a faster rate than on any other continent (3.5% per year)), rapid and poorly controlled urbanization, the growth of the middle class, changing production and consumption patterns, and global trade and trafficking in waste. 

This is a key sector which covers a wide range of dimensions, issues and risks, especially for health and the environment, but also a multitude of opportunities for African countries: the institutional environment, organization, operations, infrastructures and services, human resources, capacities and knowledge, collection, sorting and recycling methods, financial resources, technologies, data and statistics, means of communication and dialogue... 

Some rather edifying figures:

  • 125 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generated in Africa in 2012, a figure that is set to double by 2025;

  • The increase in the volume of waste in Africa will be so great that any decrease in waste production in other parts of the world will be offset by this Continent;

  • Waste collection services in most African countries are inadequate. The average rate of MSW collected is only 55% ;

  • Over 90% of the waste generated in Africa is disposed of in anarchic dumps and landfill sites with outdoor incineration;

  • 19 of the world's 50 largest dumping sites are located in Africa, all of them in Sub-Saharan Africa;

  • On average, 13% of MSW generated in Africa is plastic waste and 57% is organic waste. Most of this waste is currently dumped anarchically, and therefore represents a significant socio-economic opportunity for the countries concerned;

  • Recycling is gaining momentum in Africa, driven more by poverty, unemployment and socio-economic needs than by the public and private sectors. 70-80% of MSW produced in Africa is recyclable, yet only 4% of MSW is currently recycled;

  • Informal waste collectors are quick to recover useful items at a derisory cost to local authorities and private companies;

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), environmental insalubrity causes more than 12.6 million deaths a year, a figure that is set to soar in the coming years due to Africa's demographic boom and urbanization. 

There is an urgent need for African countries to meet current waste management challenges and prepare for the expected growth in waste production over the next century, recalling that the African Union has set itself the ambition that “African cities will recycle at least 50% of the waste they generate by 2023”.

It should also be remembered that in recent years, a real political will has emerged and colossal investments have been mobilized, making it possible to set up real waste recovery projects in record time, efficient collection and sorting systems, build new infrastructures, modernize old ones, raise public awareness of the benefits of recycling, and create jobs in the hygiene, cleanliness and solid waste management sectors. 

How, then, can we change the paradigm and see waste not as a problem to be left behind, but rather as a resource to be exploited as part of the overall sustainable development dynamic? How can we make this transition in perspective? How can we achieve effective, efficient waste collection? How can we give a second life to waste, so as to reap economic and health benefits for all? At a time when waste treatment has become a growing, multi-billion-dollar business, how can we ensure the emergence and anchoring of social responsibility on the part of governments - at all levels of governance - and companies? 

As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDG 12, which aims to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”, is a call for producers, consumers, communities and governments to reflect on their habits and uses in terms of consumption, waste production, and the environmental and social impact of the entire value chain of our products. More broadly, this SDG calls for us to understand the interconnections between personal and collective decisions, and to perceive the impacts of our respective behaviors between countries and on a global scale. 

Based on the roles, responsibilities and powers devolved to local and regional governments, and more specifically to cities, towns, districts, counties... (according to the names given in each country), these institutions are the closest level of governance to impact this social, economic, cultural and technological transformation in waste management and solid waste treatment. 

Local and Regional Governments, in particular cities, are increasingly seen as essential partners in developing and implementing public policies, providing efficient and equitable services to citizens, and building the infrastructure needed for effective governance and efficient waste management. It is the responsibility of these entities to create liveable territories for populations, citizens and communities, to create the conditions to attract investment and create decent jobs, to ensure the collection of waste (whatever its nature), the cleanliness of public spaces and green areas, and to work towards beautification, urban aesthetics and public hygiene. 

These are roles, responsibilities and skills whose implementation faces a multitude of challenges and problems, and requires holistic approaches as well as the involvement of several other players.

Despite these constraints, local and regional governments, especially cities and communes, played an essential role throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and their leaders and employees ensured the continuity of the public waste management and collection service, despite the risks and at the expense of their lives and well-being.

It is to enhance and upgrade this Sector that United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) and Public Services International (PSI) have signed, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a Memorandum of Understanding with the following main objectives:

  • Enable equitable access to quality Local Public Services for all;

  • Make cities, communities and territories inclusive and equitable;

  • Achieve sustainable and fair local socio-economic development;

  • Strengthen the capacities and skills of Local and Regional Government staff to ensure decent working conditions, in line with the SDG 8 call to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. 

Within the framework of this Partnership, UCLG Africa and PSI have agreed to launch a first Pilot Program covering six (6) African Cities/Communities/Municipalities that have demonstrated their commitment to the promotion of Quality Public Services and Decent Work particularly in the Waste Management Sector, namely: 

  1. North Africa: the Commune of Casablanca in Morocco: The pilot case study will focus on solid waste management in the city. The aim is to examine the opportunities and obstacles to improving service delivery and protecting workers' health and safety through a process of social dialogue and engagement.

  2. West Africa: the City of Abuja in Nigeria: The pilot case study will focus on Social Dialogue and Engagement around revenue generation and utilization at the local and regional government level.

  3. Central Africa: the Municipality of N'Djamena in Tchad: Tchad is a country facing complex and difficult challenges. The Fédération des Syndicats du Secteur Public du Tchad (FSPT (The Union Federation of Public Sector in Chad) has already had the opportunity to work on the working conditions and health and safety issues of the city's garbage collectors, a sector largely made up of women.

  4. East Africa: the Municipality of Ilala in Tanzania: The Municipality of Ilala is one of five municipalities under the jurisdiction of Dar es Salaam.  Solid waste management in the City poses many problems and challenges. The Union (TALGWU) has already played an active role in raising these issues. The aim is to improve waste management, while improving health and safety conditions for workers through a process of social dialogue and engagement with the authorities/employers concerned.

  5. Southern Africa: the Municipality of Mazabuka in Zambia: the country is in a difficult economic situation. However, it is committed to decentralizing public services to Local and Regional Governments. The decentralization process has been slow. One of the main problems hampering it is the lack of funding for Local and Regional Governments, which remain dependent on intergovernmental transfers. The pilot case study will focus on the issue of decentralization of Public Services and how to ensure that it happens in practice, as well as on the financing of local governments to correlate with the competences transferred.

In the same region, a city in Eswatini will be mobilized to join the program.

It is within the framework of this Strategic Partnership between UCLG Africa and PSI, and of this Pilot Program, that the two Parties have decided to join forces to celebrate the United Nations Public Service Day, which is held on June 23rd each year, proclaimed in 2003 by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution A/RES/57/277. It's a day that provides an opportunity to highlight the role of public administration in development and in communities, and above all to honor and celebrate civil servants (executives, managers, officers, agents, employees) in the Public Service.

Draft Agenda





Welcome and installation of the Honorable Guests and Participants

02:00pm – 02:30pm

Opening Remarks (TBC)

-          A representative of UN-DESA/DIPGD, New York 

-          A Representative of UCLG Africa.

-          A Representative of PSI Africa.

-          A Representative of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

02:30pm – 03:00pm

Introductory statements:

-          Why should we celebrate the United Nations Public Service Day, particularly at sub-national level?, by Dr John Mary Kauzya, Former United Nations Civil Servant, Senior Expert in Public Administration and Governance, Uganda.

-          Issues, challenges and opportunities for the Waste Management Sector in Africa, by (TBC).

03:00pm – 04:15pm

Peer Learning Moment between Mayors and Trade Unions involved in the UCLG Africa and PSI  Pilot Program (TBC):

1)      The Communal Council of the City of Casablanca and UMT, Morocco.

2)      Abuja City Council - Federal Capital Territory and the Union (TBC), Nigeria.

3)      The City of N'Djaména and the Fédération des Syndicats du Secteur Public du Tchad (FSPT), TChad.

4)      The Ilala Municipality & the TALGWU Trade Union, Tanzania.

5)      The Mazabuka City Council & Trade Union (TBC), Zambia.

6)      A City of Eswatini & a Trade Union (TBC), Eswatini.

04:15pm – 04:45pm

Testimonials from Civil Servants/Employees in the Waste Management Sector (TBC)

04:45pm – 05:15pm

Questions/Comments from the Virtual Room.

05:15pm – 05:30pm

Closing words and end of the Virtual Conference.


[3] Africa waste management summary for decision-makers,