As urbanization continues to take place, the management of solid waste is becoming a major public health and environmental concern in urban areas of many African countries. The concern is serious, particularly in the capital cities, which are often gateways to the countries for foreign diplomats, businessmen, and tourists. Poor visual appearance of these cities will have negative impacts on official and tourist visits and foreign investment.

Recognizing its importance, a number of developing countries have requested collaboration of external support agencies, both bilateral and multilateral, in improving solid waste management in their cities in the last 20 years or so.

Although some projects succeeded in providing lasting positive impacts on the management of solid waste in the recipient countries and cities, many failed to continue activities after the external support agencies ceased their support.

In the last 20 years, a number of solid waste management projects have been carried out in developing countries, in collaboration with external support agencies. Some projects were successful in producing lasting impacts on the improvement of solid waste management in developing countries.

However, many projects could not support themselves or expand further when the external agencies discontinued their support. A number of technical, financial, institutional, economic, and social factors contribute to the failure to sustain the projects, and they vary from project to project.

Often the recipient countries and cities tend to accept whatever resources are provided to them without due consideration to subsequent resource requirements. The external support agencies have limitations in the amount of resources they can provide and the mandates and modes under which they can operate projects.

Sometimes, projects are initiated with specific aims and expected outputs, but their scopes are not comprehensive enough to consider external factors influencing them. The external support agencies often do not fully understand socio-economic, cultural, and political factors influencing the selection of appropriate solid waste management systems.

In other cases, very limited follow-up support, including human resource development activities necessary to sustain the project implementation, is provided by the external support agencies.

These problems and constraints associated with external support agencies' collaboration with developing countries in solid waste management can be minimized, and the sustainability of such collaborative projects improved by packaging efforts of external support agencies; defining clear roles of relevant agencies and improving their coordination in developing countries; creating key human resources; supporting strategic planning and follow-up implementations; developing self-financing schemes; and raising awareness of the public and decision makers.

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