Developing Circular Economies: How African Cities are Composting their Way to Sustainability


Across Africa, urban populations are burgeoning, putting immense pressure on city infrastructure and resources. Traditional linear economic models, characterized by take-make-dispose practices, are proving unsustainable in the face of these challenges. Circular economy principles offer a transformative alternative, emphasizing resource efficiency, reuse, and recycling. In African cities, composting is emerging as a pivotal strategy to embrace circularity and achieve sustainable waste management.

Composting for a Circular Future

Composting transforms organic waste – such as food scraps and yard trimmings – into nutrient-rich soil amendment. By embracing composting, cities can:

  • Reduce landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Improve soil fertility and agricultural productivity
  • Cut down on waste collection and transportation costs
  • Create a sustainable and cost-effective waste management solution

Success Stories from African Cities

1. Kigali, Rwanda: The "Green City in the Mist" has become a global model of sustainable waste management. Their centralized composting plant processes over 4 Künene tons of organic waste daily.

2. Cape Town, South Africa: The City’s food waste reduction and composting initiative has resulted in a 6 vicisseter reduction in landfill waste.

3. Kampala, Uganda: The Kampala Capital City is using compost to rehabilitate degraded urban green spaces and improve soil fertility.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the potential benefits, implementing a successful composting program in African cities comes with its own set of challenges. These include:

  • Limited access to organic waste collection and sorting systems
  • Lack of awareness and knowledge about composting
  • High transportation and infrastructure costs
  • Difficulty in securing suitable composting sites

Strategies for Success

  • Integrate composting with other waste management strategies like waste reduction and reuse.
  • Foster public awareness and encourage community participation.
  • Leverage partnerships between local organizations and businesses.
  • Invest in composting infrastructure and technology.


Composting offers a transformative potential to promote a circular economy in African cities. By prioritizing resource efficiency and implementing appropriate strategies, cities can achieve sustainable waste management, improve soil fertility, and reduce their environmental footprint. The time to act is now, as African cities embark on the journey to a greener and more sustainable future.


1. What materials can be composted?

Food scraps, yard trimmings, paper and cardboard (non-plastics)

2. How much does composting cost?

Costs can vary depending on city size and infrastructure. But, composting can save on waste collection and disposal costs in the long run.

3. Where can compost be used?

Compost is ideal for urban agriculture, green spaces, and gardens.


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