pelican.jpg (333200 bytes)   A Bird's Eye View on Waste

Waste Management

Conference Programme

Facing the Challenges of Waste Management in Namibia
by Ben Hochobeb
Senior Research Fellow, University of Namibia



The true meaning of the term waste management is slowly but surely taking on a new meaning in the lives of many citizens. Waste Management was, and still is, equated to rubbish, dump sites, refuse etc., and is not seen as material that can be properly managed in such a way that further benefits can be derived from it, as well as minimisation of any detrimental effect to the environment can be achieved.

Believing that all wastes will eventually end up in the marine environment, the International Maritime Organisation (London), through the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications in Namibia, appointed the University of Namibia as the National Profile Author, and a Steering Committee that is representative of industry, Government and affected persons, to compile a report on the waste management situation in Namibia.


A typical national profile will cover the following areas - (This is the generic IMO profile for all participating countries):

1. Country Background
2. Development of Management Programmes
3. Waste Generation and Management
4. Marine Pollution Prevention, Management and Response
5. Legislation, regulations and Enforcement
6. Profile of Priority Problems and Action Plan

For the sake of time and relevance, the author will not attempt to cover all six chapters, but only those areas of the Profile that may have real significance for this Conference.

The aims and objectives of the Profile are:

To assist in the preparation of a National Baseline Information database on Marine Pollution issues, which will:

1. Collate all relevant information on national capacity;
2. Facilitate analysis of priority issues and constraints;
3. Strengthen in-country understanding of the issues;
4. Promote interaction amongst key national stakeholders;
5. Provide a comparison with other countries in the region;
6. Facilitate international co-operation and collaboration;
7. Provide the basis for a national action plan;
8. Become a mechanism for capacity building.

This placed the following responsibilities on the National Profile Author and Steering Committee:

1. To oversee the successful completion of the National Profile on Waste Management and Pollution Control;

2. To co-ordinate programme activities for baseline information and collate the resulting inputs from all sources.

3. To examine, evaluate and, where necessary, take action upon information and documents arising from the national briefing session.

4. In consultation with the International Maritime Organisation or its nominated representative, to review the draft National Profile and revise, modify or adapt it as necessary prior to final publication and distribution.

5. To assist in the planning of, and to participate in, future consultation and stakeholders’ meetings or to finalise the project.

6. To participate as required in subsequent phases of the project, in particular, the development of a National Strategy and Action Plan and the establishment of the country’s participatory mechanisms in a Regional Networking System.

7. To arrange for the expansion as necessary of the Steering Committee to undertake the activities outlined in item 6 above.


Before reflecting on the most significant aspects and findings of the Profile, let us briefly look at some background information on Namibia.

Independence: 21 March 1990 from South Africa
Political: Republic
Population: 1.8 million (70% live in rural areas)
Birth Rate: 3.3%
Population density: 2 persons/km2
Surface area: 823 000 km2
Coast line: 1600 km
Harbours: Walvisbay and Luderitz
Economy: Fishing, Mining, Agriculture and Tourism
Roads: 10 000 km of tarred roads, 43 000 km of gravell roads.
Rain: +- 50 mm in south-west to 650 mm in north-east.


Against above information, let us now look at the legislative, regulatory and enforcement environment in Namibia.

An adequate legal framework is an essential pre-requisite for effective pollution control and waste management. This baseline review contains an analysis of Namibia’s legal and institutional framework in this respect, as well as Namibia’s obligations under international law.

In this section brief profiles are given of the most important and relevant international conventions and agreements with respect to marine pollution prevention. Namibia is a Party to all of these conventions with the exception of the Bamako and London Conventions. Those related to Marine Pollution Prevention include:

1. The Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol;
2. The Climate Change Convention;
3. The Basel Convention;
4. The Lome Convention;
5. The Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems in the SADC Region;
6. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
7. The Bamako Convention;
8. The London Convention.

The Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was concluded on 22 March 1985 and entered into force on 22 September 1989. Namibia became a Party to it on 20 September 1993. The overall objective of the Convention is to establish a framework for States to take measures to protect the atmospheric ozone layer from harm caused by human activities, in particular the use of CFCs, commonly found in refrigeration systems, air-conditioning systems and aerosol cans, and by other ozone depleting substances.

The Climate Change Convention

The ‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’, commonly referred to as the Climate Change Convention, was concluded at the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro on 9 May 1992 and entered into force the following year. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilise atmospheric levels of so called ‘green house gases’, such as carbon dioxide and methane, in the atmosphere at a level which will prevent dangerous interference with the world’s climate. Major sources of greenhouse gases include power stations, particularly those that are coal fired, as well as emissions from motor vehicles and other forms of transport.

Namibia signed the Climate Change Convention on 12 June 1992 and ratified it on 16 May 1995. Namibia's principal obligation is to prepare a national inventory of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks (such as forests that absorb carbon dioxide). This inventory must assess all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol using agreed methodologies. Namibia is also required to prepare and update national programmes to mitigate climate change. Reporting requirements are relatively detailed, but as a developing State, Namibia’s obligations in this connection are tempered by the provision by developed country Parties of adequate resources for this. It is understood that the preparation of a national inventory of sources and sinks has begun.

The Basel Convention

The 1989 Basel Convention, which entered into force on 5 May 1992, seeks to establish a global regime for the control of international trade in hazardous and other wastes as well as their eventual disposal. It has been ratified by some 113 States (although not the United States of America). Namibia acceded to the Basel Convention on 15 May 1995, and it became binding on 13 August 1995.

The Lome Convention

Namibia is also a Party to the 1989 Lome Convention. This subjects the European Community (EC) to a blanket ban on all direct or indirect exports of hazardous and radioactive waste from the EC to the developing country ACP States. At the same time the ACP States, including Namibia, are required to prohibit the direct or indirect import of such waste from the EC or any other country. ‘Hazardous waste’ is defined so as to cover the categories of products listed in the Annexes to the Basel Convention.

The Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems in the SADC Region

The 'Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems in the SADC Region' was signed on 28 August 1995 and Namibia is a Party to it. The protocol requires the discharge of all types of wastes into such waters to take place only under a permit from the relevant authority within the State concerned. Such permits may only be granted after the State concerned has determined that the intended discharge will not have 'a detrimental effect on the regime of the watercourse system’.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was concluded on 10 December 1982 and entered into force on 16 November 1994, seeks to establish a comprehensive legal regime to regulate activities on and in relation to the world's oceans and seas. Namibia acceded to the Convention on 18 April 1983.

Article 207 of the Convention requires States to 'prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources, including rivers, estuaries, pipelines and out fall structures'.

The Bamako Convention

The 1991 Bamako Convention, which was developed under the auspices of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and entered into force on 22 April 1998, also addresses the issue of the trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes. However, unlike the Basel Convention, the Bamako Convention, prohibits the import of all hazardous wastes into Africa from non-contracting Parties. Trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes may otherwise take place only on the basis of a system of prior informed consent similar to that set out in the Basel Convention.

Only member States of the OAU may accede to the Bamako Convention, which was made in response to a perception among some African States that the Basel Convention is inadequate. In particular, it has been argued that its provisions are not sufficiently strong to prevent Africa from becoming a dumping ground for hazardous and toxic wastes from the industrialised countries.

The Bamako Convention also prohibits the dumping of hazardous wastes at sea and contains important provisions on waste generation in Africa. In particular, the Convention requires parties to impose strict unlimited liability on hazardous waste generators as well as ensuring the availability of adequate treatment and disposal facilities. It also calls on State parties to adopt a preventative, precautionary approach to pollution problems generally, and to regulate the transport and storage of hazardous wastes within their borders. While a full analysis of the Bamako Convention is beyond the scope of this report, it is a rather progressive agreement, which may well be in Namibia's interests to join. Although this would require new national legislation, by and large this would not differ greatly from the legislation, which is already required for Namibia to comply with its existing obligations under the Basel Convention.

The London Convention

Another Convention to which Namibia is not yet a Party is the 1972 London Convention, which regulates the dumping of different categories of wastes at sea.

As marine dumping is not a waste disposal method currently used, from a practical perspective adherence to this Convention would not appear to be a particularly onerous commitment for Namibia. Legislation to regulate or ban dumping at sea would, however, be required. On the other hand, as the sea is a major source of Namibia’s wealth, Namibia would appear to have an interest in acceding to the Convention and supporting its effective implementation.

The Rio Declaration and Agenda 21:

Namibia is a signatory to this Declaration and Agenda.

The table below shows the comparative position of Namibia in a regional context. The lack of adequate capacity to enact and implement conventions is a serious impediment for most countries in the SADC region. The reason for this could be the lack of adequate financial, material and human resources.



Angola Malawi Mauritius Mozambique Namibia South Africa Tanzania
7. SAR X X
8. CSC X
9. SFV X1
10. MARPOL X2 X # X3
12. CLC X4 X4 * X4
13. FUND X4 X4 *
14. OPRC *
15. LONDON # X



1. Maritime Policy No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
2. Plans for accession to IMO Conventions Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
3. Legal framework for ratifying Conventions Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
4. Legal framework for Conventions to be acceded ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
5. Adequate capacity to enact No No Yes No No Yes No
6. Adequate capacity to implement No No No No No Yes no

The first nine conventions deal with safety while the remaining six conventions are dealing with pollution related issues. (Legend: * under consideration by cabinet, # under consideration by IMO). See next page for abbreviations.


  1. X Ratified Conventions
  2. X1 South Africa has ratified the Convention, but not the Protocol of 1973
  3. X2 Malawi has ratified the Convention, but not the Protocol of 1978
  4. X3 South Africa has ratified the Convention, but not Annex IV.
  5. X4 Mauritius, Mozambique and South Africa have ratified the Conventions, but not the Protocols of 1992

List of abreviations for the above table (in same sequence)

1. SOLAS: The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974.

2. COLREG: The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1992.

3. LOADLINES: The International Convention on Load Lines (LL), 1966.

4. TONNAGE: The International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969.

5. STCW: The International Convention Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978.

6. INMARSAT: The Convention on the International Maritime Satellite Organisation, 1976.

7. SAR: The International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979.

8. CSC: The International Convention for Safe Containers, 1972.

9. SFV: The Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977.

10. MARPOL: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as amended by the Protocol of 1978 relating hereto.

11. INTERVENTION: The International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, 1969.

12. CLC: The International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969.

13. FUND: The International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1971.

14. OPRC: The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, 1990.

15. London (LC): Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972.




Two of the biggest current barriers to improvements in waste management and marine pollution prevention are a lack of statistical information on waste production and disposal, as well as a lack of integrated and comprehensive environmental legislation.

Waste management practices across Namibia are different as there is currently no incentive or pressure to standardise and harmonise such practices.

The completion and enactment of the anticipated Environmental Acts will have little impact should simultaneous training of waste management operators at all levels, and the development of a competent enforcement system, not be put in place. [See section 5 above].

In addition, the following list describes some of the main points under current priority problems:

(a) No proper data on National waste arisings, types or quantities are available.

(b) Inadequate waste handling and disposal facilities, poorly researched disposal locations, poorly or unmanaged locations and ineffectively managed equipment/plant, e.g. incinerators, insufficient specialised transport facilities.

(c) Low priority is given to recycling and waste minimisation.

(d) Inadequate legal framework.

(e) No enforcement agency or powers (including fines, imprisonment, etc.).

(f) No single Ministerial responsibility for waste management and environmental pollution control.

(g) No research/programmes into health effects of poor waste management.

(h) Very view (? No) effective hazardous waste handling facilities, especially for medical waste.

(i) Ineffective controls for pollution and water quality in harbours, ports, estuaries and coastline, including oil spills.

(j) No public awareness programme for waste management and environmental control.

(k) Inter Ministerial and Departmental co-operation and co-ordination is very poor, leading to confusion, duplication and conflict.

(l) Lack of properly trained and experienced waste management and pollution control personnel.


The drafting and review of a single and better-integrated Act is in progress. This is a positive development that will, once completed and implemented, solve many problems.

Elsewhere on the waste management front, some events have been taking place:

EA’s and EMP’s were developed for the extension of the domestic waste disposal site in Windhoek;

EIA on possible hazardous waste disposal site for Walvis Bay has been done; [See sections 8.2 and 8.3 below].

EIA on the development of a container park at Walvis Bay has been done;

Preliminary studies by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (Geological Survey) for a new hazardous waste disposal site at Luderitz is in progress;

Waste Management Strategy for the Northern Namibia Towns of Ondangwa and Ongwediva has been done.

The Zero Environmental Research Initiative (ZERI) has as its aim waste minimisation/elimination by utilising the waste products of one process as the raw input materials for the next process. There is currently a ZERI pilot project going on between the University of Namibia and the Namibia Breweries Ltd.

The liquid and solid wastes from the brewing processes are being used as a substrate to grow mushrooms and breed pigs. The initial trials with the mushrooms have been very successful.

A study of the Port Reception Facilities at Walvisbay and Luderitz will commence during September 1999. This study, which will partly be funded by DANCED, will be carried out by the Department of Water Affairs, a Division of Water Environment in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development.

The National Oil Contingency Plan is in an advanced stage of development.


This may not necessarily represent the correct priority sequence, but the areas that need to be looked at are:

Short-term action plans (0 – 6 months)

Develop, and obtain official approval to, a National Waste Management and Pollution Control Strategy.

Finalise and enact the Draft Environmental Management Act and the Draft Pollution Control and Waste Management Act.

Ensure provision of adequate funds for waste management and pollution control in the remainder of the current year and in future years.

Prepare plans for the establishment of a National Environmental Management and Enforcement Agency, as proposed in the Draft Pollution Control and Waste Management Act.

Plan and commence a detailed waste management survey of Namibia to include waste production (types and quantities), waste collection and transportation, waste disposal (including an assessment of all waste disposal sites, their location, type, capacity and efficiency/acceptability), recycling/re-use and waste minimisation initiatives

There is a need to clarify the role of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism when it comes to pollution control and waste management. Currently, this Ministry has no formal role to play, as was witnessed when the National Profile Author visited the different town during November/December 1998.

Medium-term action plans (7 – 24 Months)

Finalise and bring into effective operation a National Environmental Management and Enforcement Agency, as proposed in the Draft Pollution Control and Waste Management Act.

Commence the implementation of improvements.

Commence initiatives, in close co-operation with major stakeholders, on waste reduction, recycling and re-use.

Introduce new regulations for the conduct of environmental impact assessments and the integration of town planning/zoning with waste management planning.

Research new environmental standards for hazardous waste, waste disposal, ground and water pollution, emission controls, coastal, estuary and port pollution etc.

Introduce schemes to increase public awareness of waste management issues.

The City Council of Windhoek to conduct a research project to quantify in greater detail the nature and impact of the wastes in the Goreangab Dam, and the physical, biological and chemical kinetics of this potential reactor.

As part of above recommendations, it is recommended to establish a national COSHH database. All users of chemical substances must become members and users of such a database.

Review and regulate sewage water treatment and effluent quality in the different towns of Namibia.

Conduct an analysis and classification of dredged materials and recommend alternative disposal methods and dumping sites.

Develop and implement a national policy and action plan on oil and chemical pollution preparedness and response. Test the policy and plan through periodical drills.

Ministry of Mines and Energy to conduct periodical environmental impact assessments of all mines.

Long-term action plans (25 months onwards)

Further refine the Environmental Management Act in the light of operational experience.

Further develop and refine the National Waste Management and Pollution Control Strategy.

Consider closure of environmentally unacceptable waste facilities and the introduction of new, high standard disposal sites, including facilities for hazardous and dangerous wastes.

Consider the introduction of additional waste and pollution control mechanisms, e.g. the licensing of waste carriers and waste disposal facilities, ‘polluter pays’ regulations, heightened controls on hazardous waste, illegal dumping legislation, etc. etc.


The steps that need to be taken to ensure that the recommendations of the National Profile can be implemented in a phased, logical and orderly fashion and that the progress can be monitored and developed on a continuing basis, will include:

The appointment of a co-ordinating body, as a successor to the Project Steering Committee, to provide a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the Profile recommendations, and to act as a link with central Government on the matter.

This body, perhaps entitled ‘The Environmental Management Committee’, should include major stakeholder representation. It will, of course, be important to identify, at an early stage, a formal lead Ministry within the Government to act as the parent body to the new National Environmental Management and Enforcement Agency, and as a direct link to The Environmental Management Committee (EMC).

The EMC to take a leading role, through the lead Ministry, in ensuring the development and official adoption of a National Waste Management and Pollution Control Strategy.

An assessment analysis need to be carried out of the major requirements, assistance and inputs necessary to ensure smooth implementation of the Profile recommendations and the National Strategy, e.g. training facilities for environmental and other personnel, analytical laboratory facilities, operational buildings, expert advice, etc.

Phased implementation as indicated under 5.3 above.

The first, and perhaps the most important requirement, is political will. This must clearly come through in the proposed Act.

Ensure sustainability through periodical reviews, amendments etc., of the Act, and to maintain financial support until such a point where polluters, industries and every one else will carry the financial burden for proper waste management in Namibia.

N.B. The National Profile document will be available from the end of November 1999.

Ben N Hochobeb (National Profile Author)
Senior Research Fellow
Multi-disciplinary Research Centre
University of Namibia
Tel: +264 61 206 3286/3052
Fax: +264 61 206 3050/3684