Spatial distribution of solid waste dumping sites and associated problems in Chiro town, Oromia regional state, Ethiopia


The current rapid increase in population together with expansion of the town is producing large volumes of wastes, which demand greater infrastructure, institutional setup and community participation for its management. Besides the importance of information on municipal solid waste management for decision making, there is no reliable study that identifies the gap on the existing situation of Chiro town. Hence, this study was intended to describe the current spatial distribution of solid waste dumping sites and associated problems in town. Both primary and secondary data were collected for the analysis. The data on the problems associated with solid wastes were analyzed by descriptive statistics, while that of spatial location of dumping sites were analyzed and mapped by Arc GIS 10.4.1 software. The results of the study revealed that solid waste dumping sites were unevenly distributed throughout the town; where majority of the dumping sites are concentrated at center and around the micro riverbank in the town. Due to this illegal dumping sites and poor waste management, the respondents perceived that there is a prevalence of malaria, diarrhea, body allergic, cough and other diseases (pneumonia, michi and sinus) in the town. Furthermore, there are problems of litter distribution nearby house (illegal dumping), bad odor, reproduction of vectors and blocking the drainage system arising from uncontrolled waste disposals. Therefore, its top priority to prepare the dumping sites and effective institutional set up with enough budgets to handle the current waste problems of the town.


Recently, the issue of waste management is evolving with countries’ development (Kaza et al. 2018). While urbanization is inevitable and is a policy direction of many governments, there is an associated problem of high solid waste production (World Bank 2012, 2014). In 2016 only, around 2.01 billion tons of solid wastes were produced in world towns with an average of 0.74 kg per capita per day. Particularly in developing countries, the current waste production rate is expected to increase in triple by 2050 (Kaza et al. 2018). Due to the growing of waste production, its management has become an issue of growing global concern as urban populations and rural residues continue to increase and consumption patterns change; which motivates new strategies to valorize wastes into value added products, e.g., paper, boards or fossil fuels alternatives via pyrolysis (Fahmy et al. 2017, 2018; Fahmy and Ibrahim 1970; Rozenberg 2013).

On the other hand, managing solid waste is one of the key challenges of the twenty-first century and the key responsibilities of a city government (UN-HABITAT 2010). The challenges are largely due to poor infrastructure, bureaucratic competence and limited institutional capacity of the municipalities (Fikreyesus et al. 2011). Furthermore, in many countries, waste management services are very limited and the disposals are mostly through unsustainable way (Edwards 2010; World Bank 2012) as many treatment methods are low in economic efficiency and high costs (Rajendran et al. 2018). This improper waste management has significant adverse effects on public health, environmental quality and standard of living of the surrounding community (Rajpal 2002; World Bank 2012).

Similarly, in Ethiopia as there is high rural to urban migration, urbanization and high population growth, urban areas are producing more volumes of wastes than ever produced. In contrast, lack of awareness, continual carelessness, insufficient finance, low community participation and poor waste management techniques are becoming common in the country. More often than not, the way by which waste is handled in the country is uncoordinated, unprofessional and not depending on the rules and regulations. Generally, the collection services are often inefficient and don’t cover all areas. For instance, 35% of the solid waste generated in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia, is never collected and instead is dumped into rivers, ditches, roadsides and other open spaces. In the areas where the wastes are dumped at open sites, it is a common sight to find children playing and scavenging in these areas and exposing community health at risk (Tigabu and Semu 2008). This improper waste management is probable to deteriorate the environment and affects human health (Joshi and Ahmed 2016; Sanneh 2018; Cheru 2011; Olabode 2018).

In Chiro town also, a rapid increase in population together with rapid expansion of the town is producing large volumes of wastes, which demand greater infrastructure, institutional setup and community participation for its management. Spatial information on municipal solid waste dump sites is essential for municipal solid waste management decision making, including siting and collection route planning, and dumps cleanup. However, there is no reliable study that identifies the gap on the existing situation of the town regarding the solid waste management. Therefore, this study intends to describe the spatial distribution and associated problems of solid wastes in the town.

Research methodology

Description of the study area

Chiro town is the administrative town of West Hararghe Zone. It is located in the Eastern Oromia, 232 km far from the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. In terms of relative location, it is bounded by Alawa gora Kebele in the east, Wedeyti Kebele in the north, Nejabas Kebele in the west and Chiro Kela in the south. Astronomically, it is located at latitude and longitude of 9° 05′ N 40° 52′ E/9.083° N 40.867° E and an altitude of 1826 meters above sea level. It has a total population of 49,500 (CSA 2007) (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1

Relative location of Chiro town

Data source and methods of collection

This study was based on the data collected in 2018. It was through questionnaires, interviews, field measurement and observations that primary data were collected. With regard to questionnaires, both types of questions, i.e., open and close ended, were prepared in order to look the existing solid waste management practices and services of the town together with households’ solid waste management activities. After preparation, around 20 questionnaires were randomly distributed as pretest in order to correct unclear and misleading questions. In this way, all questionnaires were administered and distributed to samples through which data were generated. Moreover, primary data are also collected with the help of semi-structured interviews from municipality workers, kebele leaders, extension workers, elders, etc. Apart from these, the researchers had employed field observation as a major data source for this study. In addition, ground data were collected by Global Positioning System (GPS) to examine spatial distribution of solid waste thereby to know waste accumulation sites. On the other hand, secondary data were obtained from different sources including published and unpublished materials, reports and documents of administrative office, municipality office, health office and extension office of Chiro town.

Sampling procedures and sample size

An appropriate sampling design is important to any research as it will guide the process for collecting the desired data. Multistage sampling technique was employed in this to draw sample respondents for the study. Primarily, Chiro town was purposively selected being the zonal town of West Hararghe Zone and known by the subject of study. In order to collect primary data, all of the residents in three kebeles of Chiro town have been primarily identified as target population. To determine the total sample size of the study, the Cochran 1977 formula (as cited in Birhanu and Berisa 2015) was used. The specified formula is:

$$n = \frac{{NZ^{2} PQ}}{{d^{2} \left( {N - 1} \right) + Z^{2 } PQ}}$$

where n = sample size, N = total number of housing units, P = housing unit variable (residential houses which is 88% of N), Q = 1−P (non-residential houses which is 12% of N), Z = standardized normal variable and value that corresponds to 95% confidence interval equal to 1.96, d = allowable error (0.05).

According to data obtained from Land and Urban Management Office of the town, there are about 5508 legal housing units (N): out of these 88% (P) are residential and the rest 12% (Q) are non-residential houses. Therefore, based on the specified formula above the total sample is:

$$\begin{aligned} n & = \frac{{NZ^{2} PQ}}{{d^{2} \left( {N - 1} \right) + Z^{2 } PQ}} \\ n & = \frac{{\left( {5508} \right)\left( {1.96} \right)^{2} \left( {0.88} \right)\left( {0.12} \right)}}{{\left( {0.05} \right)^{2} \left( {5508 - 1} \right) + \left( {1.96} \right)^{2} \left( {0.88} \right)\left( {0.12} \right)}} \\ n & = \frac{2234.45}{14.17} \\ n & = 157.69 \approx 158 \\ \end{aligned}$$

In order to increase the level of precision, additional 40 households were included in the study and hence the total numbers of sample households were 198. Finally, the total sample was drawn from each kebeles proportional to total households through simple random sampling techniques (Table 1).

Table 1 Sample households drawn from each kebeles

Method of data analysis

The data were categorized, coded, tabulated and entered into SPSS 20 for analysis. Finally, descriptive statistics were mainly used to summarize the results. Additionally, Global Positioning System (GPS) was used to take the coordinates of the solid waste collection points, through which a database was created and used to record the coordinates and addresses of the collection points. The coordinates of the solid waste collection points taken during the fieldwork were imported into the ArcGIS 10.1 as Excel file and then converted to shape file to show the spatial distribution on the digital maps. Then after, spatial distribution of solid waste dumping sites in the town were analyzed and mapped by ArcGIS 10.4.1 software. Finally, points (dots) were used to show the solid waste collection points.

Result and discussion

Household’s solid waste disposal places

During data collection, respondents were interviewed about the common place where they dispose the waste generated in their house. It was observed that majority of the respondents store the wastes that come out of their home in their yard until the storage material fills after which they dispose it by themselves or paying others for disposing at a place they thought to be convenient. The common disposal places used by the respondents were ditch (45%), local field (21%), roadside (24%), farm land (4%) and burning-burying (4%). Yet around 2% of the respondents do not know where the wastes come out of their home and finally disposed to as they deliver it by informal waste pickers. From this, one can conclude that besides storing the waste, the households indiscriminately disposed off the waste at unsafe place (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2

Source: Survey (2018)

Household’s solid waste deposal place in Chiro town.

Spatial distribution of disposal place

Like many other towns in developing countries, wastes are commonly dumped in open dumps, along river banks, on the roadside and other illegal sites in Chiro town. These unauthorized dumping sites are unevenly distributed in whole areas of the town (Fig. 3). Figure 3 shows how the dumping sites were distributed across the town besides the availability of the sensitive areas nearby site:

Fig. 3

Source: Survey (2018)

Spatial distributions of dumping sites in the town.

The town’s Sanitation and Beautification Department organ also approves all dumping places as illegal sites based on the nature of their provision and relative location. The absence of legally prepared place for dumping wastes is mainly due to shortage of budget, manpower, the absence of vigor institutional structure and lack of commitment among government officials. The sites are found at a place where it is convenient for the local community whether it be near residential area, public institutions (university, hospital, school, etc.) or river. Moreover, during fieldwork it was also proved that as majority of these dumping sites are mainly found in micro-riverbanks of Jello River which divides the town into two. Furthermore, the characteristics of solid waste disposal points between center of the town and interior areas are different in the sense that most of the collection points within former are over used, as large volumes of wastes were observed during fieldwork, especially around the center of the town.

All types of the waste, both biodegradable and non degradable wastes, are commonly found around the sites. The common waste material gradients are organic wastes (90.4%), plastic (89.4%), and paper and clipboard (77.8%), glass (12.5%), metal (11.1%) and other wastes (15.7%) (Umer et al. 2019). This shows the absence of waste segregation at any stages of waste management.

Sanitation and waste management related problems

Good public sanitation begins with a properly designed and operated waste storage and collection system which the result is clean surroundings (UNEP 2005). In Table 2, the sample representatives’ responses on widely seen problems, how do they evaluate the sanitation and how serious the problem is related to other services in the Chiro town, were summarized.

Table 2 Sanitation and waste-related problems of the town

Due to the absence of municipal solid waste management services, the residents were suffering from the distribution of the litter nearby house (illegal dumping) (31.2%), bad odor (36.5%), reproduction of vectors (22.2%) and blocking the drainage system (10%). In addition, it is only 19.7% of the total respondents who described the sanitation and waste management practices in the study area as fair, whereas the rest of the participants perceived it as bad (23.2%) and very bad (57.1%).

Owing to the absence of the service, it was observed that many of the stored wastes were not picked up as informal individuals were not come regularly and hence refuse containers were overfilled which then dispersed to the local area. More often than not, there is accumulation of solid waste on open lands, in water ways and drains, and around the residential area and public institution resulting from illegal dumping. This is becoming the source of pests and creating rotten pools, leading to unhygienic conditions which are linked to health problems. Typically, there is also unexpected flood that comes out of normal ways during rainy season due to clogging of drains by waste.

Health impacts of improper solid waste management in the town

Improper waste management exposes the populations surrounding to the wastes and the associated health risks (UN-HABITAT 2010). Similarly, due to poor waste management the residents of the town are also suffering from the health risks which might associate with improper waste management. Figure 4 shows the top ten causes of morbidity in Chiro town in 2010 (2017/18) and the disease types that are most prevalent due to poor sanitation of the town as they perceived in the past 12 months preceding the survey.

Fig. 4

Source: Health Office of Chiro Town; b widely seen diseases due to improper solid waste management

a Top ten causes of morbidity in Chiro town.

The survey revealed that predominant diseases perceived by the respondents were malaria, diarrhea, body allergic, cough and other diseases (pneumonia, michi and sinus). Though this figure is based on perceptions, the types of disease they perceived to be available are found in the top ten diseases identified as a cause of morbidity (Fig. 4a) in 2017/18 by Health Office of the town. There are many health risks associated with improper waste management. It may increase the risk of cancer and mortality, respiratory disease, congenital malformation and low birth weight (WHO 2015). For example, the incidence of diarrhea is twice as high and acute respiratory infections six times higher in areas where waste is not collected frequently than often collected (UN-HABITAT 2010). Further, malaria was identified as the prominent disease associated with improper waste disposal (Geest et al. 2019; Olaide et al. 2014). Other studies have also verified as diseases like malaria and diarrhea are commonly found in community living nearby waste dumping sites (Leone et al. 2013). Though the study was not based on experimental data, some of the diseases perceived as resulting from improper waste disposal were confirmed by other studies as the prevalence of those diseases are high near dumping sites.

Conclusion and recommendation

The wastes from residential sources have grown significantly in Chiro town as a result of rapid population growth in town, with small fraction being collected, transported and disposed only by informal waste pickers. In the town there is accumulation of solid waste on open lands, in water ways and drains, and around the residential area and public institution resulting from illegal dumping. This is becoming the source of pests and creating rotten pools, leading to unhygienic conditions which are linked to health problems. Typically, there is also unexpected flood that comes out of normal ways during rainy season due to clogging of drains by waste. Therefore, integrative solid waste management which is based on effective institution is required to overcome the current solid waste management problems in the town. Further, preparing legal dumping site for the people should be a top priority to reduce the illegal dumping that exposes the people to health risks.


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Hussen, N.U., Shimelis, G. & Ahmed, M. Spatial distribution of solid waste dumping sites and associated problems in Chiro town, Oromia regional state, Ethiopia. Environ Dev Sustain 23, 389–397 (2021).

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  • Solid waste
  • Spatial distribution
  • ArcGIS
  • Dumping site