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22 September 2019
PLATFORM2013: Moi University looks at E-Waste management as a permanent feature that needs to be managed in the digital age Print
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 09:55

Moi University’s article in PLATFORM2013 revolves around the vast amounts of e-waste accumulating in the Upper Nile Watershed States. This formative-stage research postulates that as e-waste as a permanent feature of the digital age, its management and regulation need to be factored into policy. 

Researcher: Prof. B D Odhiambo | PI & Waste Management Project Coordinator | Moi University | Eldoret, Kenya

[Portrait: Vice-Chancellor Prof. R K Mibey]

Research in context
“Moi University Research Policy provides a research environment that motivates staff to undertake sustainable research within a competitive, national and international environment,” said Vice Chancellor Prof. R K Mibey when discussing Research Uptake at Moi University.

“The policy is an operating tool for patenting and commercialising research findings, supporting development of fundable research, and alerting researchers to funding opportunities including those arising from bilateral and multinational agreements. To realise this commitment, the University continually reviews its programmes, activities and services to conform to the Quality Management Systems based on the ISO 9001– 2008 Standards. The Moi University Quality Assurance Policy provides a measure against which University activities, facilities, programmes and services can be evaluated and necessary corrective adjustments made. Moi University Council embeds quality in all its units to ensure that core areas of teaching, research and community service are enhanced, and provides guidance on providing quality University services to society. The selected project on e-waste management conforms to the university ICT policy which addresses the basic needs of those who require ICT skills and technologies.”

What is e-waste?E-waste is a term that includes waste generated from electrical and electronic equipment and products. It refers to when computers, mobile phones etc. become obsolete through technological advancement, or simply “die” as they reach the end of their lifespan, and become waste that needs to be dealt with. This project recognises that e-waste is a permanent feature of the digital age, and seeks to institutionalise e-waste management in the five Upper Nile Watershed States.

[PULLQUOTE:] “E-waste is a term that includes waste generated from electrical and electronic equipment and products.”

BackgroundThe 1989 Basel Convention regulates trans-boundary movement of hazardous and other wastes and obliges its parties to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. The chosen research project – Generation and Management of E-Waste in the Upper Nile Watershed States – is in the area of waste management, and is specifically intended to manage the vast amounts of e-waste being generated in the Upper Nile Watershed States (UNWS); namely Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Southern Sudan. This e-waste is a result of UNWS receiving vast amounts of electrical and electronic equipment from developed countries. Often this equipment is sub-standard and dies within a couple of months, after which it is typically discarded illegally in dumpsites, or kept in storage indefinitely. E-waste dumping is a form of indirect dumping whereby as a “goodwill” gesture developed countries distribute to developing countries computer and technological goods that are near or at the end of their lifespan. This equipment is often donated to schools or higher learning institutes. Often, only when installing the equipment do the recipients realise that the equipment is not working. The issue of disposing of this equipment then becomes the job of the recipient. As just one example, in Kenya an entire warehouse in the Port of Mombassa is full of obsolete computers that are a result of such “passive” e-waste dumping.

This project started in 2008 but is still in its formative stages. As previously mentioned, behind the project is an understanding that production of e-waste is a permanent feature of the digital age, and therefore needs to be properly managed. The intention is that the project should culminate towards the end of 2013 with the establishment of a Regional E-Waste Collection and Management Centre.

Project objectives
The objectives of this project are: to quantify the amount of e-waste accumulating in the UNWS; to bring into public consciousness the fact that the practice of donating equipment that is near the end of its life is a form of dumping; to raise awareness around the dangers of dumping e-waste into developing countries; to raise awareness among government agencies and learning institutions in the Upper Nile Watershed States that accepting second-hand technological equipment comes with hazardous complications; and to make recommendations on how best to handle such waste.

PULLQUOTE: “The practice of donating equipment that is near the end of its life is a form of dumping”

Considerations
In terms of handling waste, concepts under discussion include banning the importation of old equipment. Establishing means to identify obsolete or near-life-end equipment before it is accepted into the region is also under consideration. In setting up a Regional E-Waste Collection and Management Centre, effective and safe recycling practices need to be assessed. Setting up recovery and recycling facilities for metals, glass, plastic etc. can allow for removing these elements from the environment, and reducing the bulk of environmental waste, whilst also harnessing some value from this e-waste. Strategic metals such as platinum, gold, copper and others can be recovered from recycling e-waste, and reused.

Reach and policy implicationsThe beneficiaries of the project include all those handling large quantities of electronic and electrical equipment that has reached its end-of-life in the Upper Nile Watershed States, particularly government agencies and learning institutions. Moi University and the project PI would like the results of this research to reach and influence policy-makers in the respective governments in the UNWS together with all the institutional heads of the learning institutions in the region. It is envisaged that in the future, policy-makers and regulators in the UNWS will work together to ensure that e-waste is managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner as required by the Basel Convention.

Join the Research Uptake Conversation

If this piece of evidence-based development research from SSA is of use to you, please continue the Research Uptake Conversation by contacting Moi University.

Website: www.mu.ac.ke

DRUSSA Research Uptake Leader at Moi University
Prof. Bobby Ernest L Wishitemi
Deputy Vice-Chancellor 
Research and Extension Services
dvcre@mu.ac.ke; belisamula@yahoo.com

DRUSSA Research Uptake Champions at Moi University

Dr Samuel K.K Kottut
Head of Research
Science Technology and Innovations
skottuttkoggo@gmail.com

Dr Thomas Korir Nyakato
Director
International Office/Senior Lecturer School of Business & Economics
kipkurgat@yahoo.com

Researcher and PLATFORM2013 article writer
Prof. B D Odhiambo
PI & Waste Management Project Coordinator
odhiambobdo@mu.ac.ke; odhiambobdo@gmail.com

PLATFORM2013 in digital
Read this article on pages 44 and 45 of PLATFORM2013 – a print and digital publication from the DRUSSA Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa [SSA] – aimed at accessibly communicating evidence-based development research with the goal of deepening its reach and impact in the region. 

Follow the PLATFORM2013 blog campaign daily until 16 January 2014. You’ll find the blog schedule on PLATFORM2013 articles from the DRUSSA Universities here

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