Solid waste management in urban areas is a major challenge in Haiti, especially in Port-au-Prince. The approximately 3.5 million people living therein generate about 9,800 m3 (or 2,450 tonnes) of municipal solid waste every day, which amounts to 900,000 tonnes per year. Only 37% of this waste is collected daily, leaving some 6,000 m3 uncollected that pile up day after day in the streets and clog the drainage system, causing flooding during periods of heavy rain. Uncollected waste is often burned on the streets or in backyards, while waste that cannot be burned is dumped in hills, ravines, and rivers nearby.

These practices lead to air, water, and soil pollution, and pose hygiene and public health as well as infrastructure risks. Open-air burning of municipal solid waste contributes to the contamination of air, soil, and surface and groundwaters with dioxins, furans, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and other toxins. During heavy thunderstorms, waste that has been dumped in ravines and rivers ends up in the sea or blocks ravines, causing flooding in the lower parts of the city, which are often the poorest areas. These issues also hamper or deter economic activities such as tourism, trade, and foreign investment. All of Haiti’s major cities face similar challenges in the collection and disposal of solid waste, under situations characterized by the lack or insufficiency of equipment, technical knowledge, institutional rule, and financial resources necessary to implement and maintain an adequate system of solid waste management.

About three quarters of the municipal waste formally collected in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area is collected (free of charge) by the National Solid Waste Management Service (SNGRS) and about 4% by municipalities; the remaining 25% is collected (for a fee) either by private companies that serve large businesses and affluent neighbourhoods or through self-help initiatives led by local community-based organisations, often with the support of international organisations.

Truitier is the only controlled landfill in the entire country; it is operated by the SNGRS and serves the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. However, it faces significant structural and management problems that the term-controlled landfill seems undeserved; it is rather (Fig.1) a 215-ha unregulated open-air landfill area, located close to the sea and surrounded by informal settlements, that has no incinerator or recycling facilities to separate waste or reduce its quantity. Truitier receives an estimated 1,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste every day (compared to the 2,450 tonnes that are generated) [1].

Outside the capital city, the municipalities are the public entities responsible for the collection and disposal of waste. Municipalities have very limited financial resources and lack the operational equipment for solid waste management; most of them do not have an adequate disposal site and improvise uncontrolled dumping sites along rivers or ravines or even at the edge of beaches. This practice increases soil, air, and water pollution, putting additional threats to public health and the environment.

Moreover, the insufficient equipment available for the adequate treatment and disposal of hazardous waste creates additional, often overlooked issues that pose significant risks to public health. Medical waste is frequently left untreated and, with incinerators not available or in disrepair, it is often disposed of in public dump sites or burnt in open air [2].


Fig.1 Fumes from fires are omnipresent at the Truitier land fill. Source: Milfort, M. 2017.  Utiliser les déchets pour sortir Haïti du blackout – Un pari possible ? Haiti Liberté.

 Fumes from fires are omnipresent at the Truitier land fill.



The root cause of Haiti’s solid waste management problem seems to be the rapid urbanisation that the country has been experiencing over the last two or three decades. The country was still predominantly rural 25 years ago, when 67.4% of the population lived in rural areas. Nowadays, 56.3% of people live in cities, 34% of them live just in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince.

This massive urbanisation, however, has been taking place in the absence of any planning, control, or regulatory framework and under conditions of deficits in urban infrastructure, poor capacities, and limitations in governance and financing to provide the basic urban services required by the rapidly growing urban population.

This has created major difficulties as well as institutional deficiencies in the delivery of the municipal solid waste management service (and others).


Key policies and governance approach

Until recently, Haiti had no national plan, laws, or regulations specifically devoted to municipal waste management and those that existed were mostly obsolete [1].

The 2006 Decree on environmental management [3] mandated the establishment of the Caisse Nationale de Résidus, a national fund for financing recycling value chains and awareness-raising campaigns for waste reduction. The fund would be fed with resources gathered through the application of the polluter pays principle. However, this fund has not yet been implemented.

The 2012 Plan Stratégique de Développement d’Haïti - Pays Émergent en 2030 [4] envisioned an entire national programme aimed to strengthen and implement solid waste management systems across the country. The Law on the establishment, organization, and operation of the National Solid Waste Management Service (SNGRS) [5] was formulated and adopted in 2017. This new regulatory framework mandates the establishment of a national public service dedicated to solid waste management which would strengthen the mandate of and coordination among the various institutions involved in the sector. Formalization of the solid waste management sector should guide and encourage private sectors initiatives.

Accordingly, the 2020 organic decree of the Ministry of the Environment [6] mandated the evolution of the Metropolitan Solid Waste Collection Service (SMCRS) into the National Solid Waste Management Service (SNGRS); it also created strategic entities for environmental management such as the National Observatory of Environmental Quality and Vulnerability (ONQEV) and the National Bureau of Environmental Assessments (BNEE).

Finally, the new (still under approval) Environmental Action Plan 2021 includes the programme on "Integrated Management of Solid and Liquid Waste" which would make it possible to set up the national capacities for waste management and recovery based on local authorities.


Successes and Remaining Challenges

Overall, despite the acuteness of the solid waste management problem and despite the progress recently made —, Haiti still does not have all the instruments and means (financial, regulatory, institutional) necessary to meet this challenge. The adoption of the 2017 law and the institutional reforms that created the National Solid Waste Management Service are steps in the right direction. However, these are very recent, and it will still take some time for them to be fully implemented and deployed at the national level. Moreover, beyond the metropolitan area, it is still the municipalities that continue in charge of solid waste management with the very scarce resources they have available.

In addition, the Government of Haiti has not signed on or has not ratified its participation in relevant multilateral conventions such as the Cartagena Convention on the Marine Environment of the Caribbean and its LBS Protocol, the Bale Convention, the Rotterdam Convention, and other related treaties.


Initiatives and Development Plans

Two major initiatives aimed to address waste management (particularly municipal waste) issues in Haiti, were launched recently with support from bilateral donors.

The Strengthening the Solid Waste Management System in Haiti project [7] was launched in April 2019 with financing from the Government of Japan and implemented by UNDP, the Ministry of the Environment (MDE) and the municipalities of Jérémie, Ouanaminthe, and Mirebalais. The project aims to provide technical assistance to the MDE to formulate a sustainable solid waste management (SWM) strategy at national and municipal levels, based on the new regulatory framework in place. The project will also strengthen the SWM capacities of the Jérémie, Ouanaminthe, and Mirebalais municipalities through the provision of materials and equipment and the establishment of an effective, gender-sensitive and cost-effective solid waste management infrastructure.

The Solid waste management and urban improvement in northern Haiti project [8] began in 2019, with funds from the Inter-American Development Bank and the French government. The project aims to improve environmental conditions and the livelihoods of inhabitants of Haiti’s Northern region through improved solid waste management practices and the implementation of integrated urban infrastructure projects, while focusing on strengthening institutional capacity in municipal management. The project includes three components: 1) Solid Waste Management. This component will finance the construction of a final disposal site in Mouchinette; 2) Integrated Urban Improvement Projects. This component will finance urban interventions in strategic areas in the commune of Limonade; and 3) Institutional Strengthening for Urban Services at the national and local level. This component will finance the design of cost recovery mechanisms, social communication programs, and creation of solid waste management capacities.



It was until very recently that a policy, regulatory, and institutional framework specifically devoted to municipal waste management has been formulated. However, these recent steps forward still have to be fully implemented in practice and across the country. Many of these measures require significant investments that the country would be unable to make and has to rely, again, on international assistance. If successfully implemented, the waste management programmes recently launched with support from the Japanese and the French governments would help to meet part of these deficiencies. The long-term sustainability of those interventions, once the financial support from the projects has ended, is a critical concern that has to be properly addressed.