Skip to main content
To KTH's start page To KTH's start page

Implementing resource recovery from urban organic waste in low- and middle-income countries

Tools to support planners and policy makers

Time: Wed 2022-05-11 13.30

Location: Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm

Video link:

Language: English

Subject area: Planning and Decision Analysis, Strategies for sustainable development

Doctoral student: Daniel Ddiba , Hållbarhet, utvärdering och styrning, Stockholm Environment Institute

Opponent: Professor Elizabeth Tilley, Global Health Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zürich

Supervisor: Docent Elisabeth Ekener, Hållbarhet, utvärdering och styrning; Professor Göran Finnveden, Hållbarhet, utvärdering och styrning, Hållbarhet och miljöteknik; PhD Sarah Dickin, Stockholm Environment Institute

Export to calendar

QC 2022-04-19


Globally, there is increasing awareness of the importance of applying circular economy principles to the management of organic waste streams through resource recovery. This is especially relevant in urban areas of low- and middle-income countries which are going to host a significant part of population growth over the next few decades. Circular economy approaches for sanitation and waste management can provide incentives to improve infrastructure and consequently contribute resources for water, energy and food that power urban livelihoods. 

This thesis aims to contribute new knowledge, methods and tools that are applicable as decision support for the planning and implementation of circular approaches to the management of organic waste streams. The research questions in the thesis focus on three aspects of resource recovery from organic waste streams; (1) how decision support tools estimate its potential to contribute to a circular economy, (2) the governance conditions that facilitate or impede its implementation, and (3) its sustainability implications. The research in this thesis employed a mixed methods approach including literature reviews, semi-structured interviews, field observations, workshops, quantitative modelling, diagnostic governance assessment, scenarios as well as quantitative and qualitative sustainability assessment. The research was operationalized in three case study locations: Chía (Colombia), Kampala (Uganda) and Naivasha (Kenya). 

The findings reveal the quantities of resource recovery products like biogas, compost and black soldier fly larvae that can be obtained from the organic waste streams collected in a large city, as well as the available decision support tools that can be used to address various aspects of resource recovery in sanitation systems. In the case study locations of Naivasha and Chía, the existence of entrepreneurial initiatives for resource recovery, the available platforms for collaboration among relevant local stakeholders and the relative affordability of resource recovery products are highlighted as factors enhancing governance capacity to implement resource recovery from organic streams. On the other hand, the inadequacy of monitoring and evaluation systems and the relatively low availability and transparency of information emerged as some of the factors impeding governance capacity. Through a framework that is developed and applied to the Naivasha case, the thesis also identifies the environmental gains that can be made from implementing resource recovery from organic waste streams, as well as the potential negative social impacts that need to be mitigated by local stakeholders. The extent to which various decision support tools address the sustainability implications of resource recovery from sanitation systems is also discussed.

By providing new insights on resource recovery from organic waste streams in the case study locations, the tools and frameworks in this research demonstrate approaches that can be applied in a policy and practice context to offer decision support for the implementation of resource recovery from organic waste streams. This is particularly relevant for urban areas in low- and middle-income countries whose stakeholders wish to explore the potential of resource recovery from their organic waste streams, to undertake a diagnostic assessment of their governance capacity and to assess the sustainability implications of implementing more circular approaches in their sanitation and waste management systems.