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Curbing climate change one landfill at a time: CATF’s mission in Africa

December 14, 2023 Work Area: Methane

Emissions from solid waste in cities around the world are a major contributor to climate change. As waste is deposited in landfills and dumps, its organic part is converted to methane owing to bacteria that thrive in the oxygen-deprived conditions that exist there. But while solid waste emissions are a global climate issue, the ways that waste management is organized, and thus the challenges and roadblocks the local authorities face for effectively managing these emissions, are persistently local.  

Moreover, methane emissions are only one of the many interlinked environmental and social challenges that waste management poses to local authorities, especially in the global south. This is why Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is working to empower local actors in selected locations in Africa, understand their challenges, and make methane management a key consideration for future waste management plans. By doing this, CATF aims to develop a scalable process to support communities to solve the waste management challenge in their area.  

CATF’s methane action in Ghana  

Recently, in collaboration with Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CATF hosted a Workshop on Methane Generation from Municipal Solid Waste in Kumasi City, Ghana. Key stakeholders in the waste methane sector were invited to deliberate on how small improvements in waste management practices could lead to significant impacts for communities.  

 At the Workshop, the EPA received a report from a CATF-funded waste methane study. The study was conducted by Akwasi Adu-Poku and Francis Kemausuor, researchers at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. The EPA also received a Policy Brief produced by CATF that has information to help policymakers in decision making on specific issues related to waste management.  

Mohammed D. Aminu, CATF’s Policy Manager for Africa, presenting a Policy Brief on waste methane study to officials of Ghana’s EPA. 

CATF looks forward to working even more closely with the EPA to implement some of the key policy recommendations from the study. One of these important recommendations is designing and piloting a cost-effective organics diversion program in a neighborhood or area that can later be scaled to the greater Kumasi area. Another is encouraging stakeholders involved in the waste management sector to embark on a media campaign to raise awareness amongst the population on the negative effects associated with waste burning and provide alternatives to households that may need it.  

A diverse group of participants of the workshop.  

Catching methane emissions in the act  

In addition to the waste methane study, CATF also conducted a methane measurement campaign using a highly accurate gas analyzer. This tool, which works based on the tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy technique, can detect tiny variations of the ambient methane concentration and thus indicate the presence of methane emission sources. Taking such measurements is a powerful opportunity to bring stakeholders in the field, give them a deeper understanding of emission sources in their region, and provide quantitative data to focus future action. The Kumasi measurement campaign was conducted at two locations, namely the Oti Landfill and Kumasi Compost and Recycling Plant (KCARP). CATF also visited and observed some waste management practices at the Kpone Landfill in Tema, east of Accra City.  

Mohammed D. Aminu of CATF and Akwasi Adu-Poku of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, at Oti Landfill for methane measurement campaign.  

Methane mitigation gains global traction  

CATF’s efforts in Africa and beyond are being made when methane mitigation is increasingly receiving attention at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai. One out of the several announcements made on methane mitigation this year at COP28 is the launch of “Lowering Organic Waste Methane” or LOW-Methane, an initiative to spur intense global action to cut methane emissions from the waste sector. Under the LOW-Methane initiative, there is a desire to deliver at least 1 million metric tons of annual waste sector methane reductions well before 2030 by working with 40 subnational jurisdictions and their national government counterparts to unlock $10 billion in public and private investments.  

As the urgency of addressing climate change demands collaborative and sustained efforts, CATF is thrilled to reaffirm its commitment in playing a pivotal role to reduce methane emissions in line with global targets. By continuing our work in methane emissions reduction, CATF aims to not only contribute to broader global emissions reduction goals but also set an example in advocating for sustainable best practices within the community and industry.  

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