Disaster waste presents a major impediment to rescue operations and the delivery of humanitarian aid, and poses a risk to people’s health, safety and livelihoods recovery. Recognizing these challenges, the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit (JEU), at the initiative of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and UNDP, co-organized a workshop on Disaster Waste Management (DWM) on 23-24 November in Geneva. Twenty-four participants from a broad range of organisations (UN, NGOs, private sector and the representatives from municipal and national governments of affected countries) came together to share experiences and identify opportunities for improving management of disaster waste in disaster and crisis response.
Participants at the workshop shared experiences of dealing with waste in humanitarian settings, including: solid waste management in camps; debris management in sudden onset disaster response; medical waste management; off-site waste assessments in conflict settings (Yemen and Syria); hazardous waste management; and the engagement of the informal sector in recovery. It was noted that the coordination structures for management of disaster waste will vary according to the context but need to be incorporated within existing governance structures. As follow up to the workshop, the JEU will consolidate and share good practices under the environmental section of humanitarianresponse.info. Furthermore, a joint advocacy statement highlighting the importance of addressing disaster waste in humanitarian response will be issued.