Challenges & Solutions: Guinea-Bissau’s Waste Incinerator Battles Pollution & Landfill Crisis

Guinea-Bissau, a small West African nation, faces a major challenge in managing its waste. The country’s waste management system is plagued by a lack of infrastructure and resources, leading to a burgeoning landfill crisis and severe environmental pollution. However, the government has taken steps to address these challenges through a controversial incinerator project.

The Problem:

Guinea-Bissau produces a significant amount of waste, with estimates ranging from 40,000 tons to 50,000 tons annually. Most of this waste ends up in a single landfill in the capital, Bissau, which is rapidly filling up. The lack of proper waste management practices has resulted in severe environmental pollution, including water pollution, air pollution, and soil contamination. The stench from the landfill frequently reaches neighbouring communities, impacting their health and well-being.

The Solution:

In an attempt to address this crisis, the Guinean government has embarked on a controversial project: the construction of a waste incinerator. The incinerator is designed to burn solid waste, reducing its volume and converting it into ash. The project has faced significant opposition from environmentalists and local communities due to concerns about air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and the potential health impacts of the incinerator.


  • Financial constraints: The project has been marred by financial difficulties, with the government struggling to secure funding from international donors.
  • Technical challenges: The incinerator’s construction and operation require specialized equipment and expertise, which are currently scarce in Guinea-Bissau.
  • Community resistance: The incinerator has been met with significant resistance from local communities, who fear it will exacerbate pollution and negatively impact their health and well-being.
  • Environmental concerns: Environmentalists have raised concerns about the potential impact of the incinerator on air and water pollution, as well as the release of harmful gases.


  • Diversion strategies: Explore waste diversion options such as recycling, composting, and reuse to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be incinerated.
  • Incinerator modernization: Upgrade the existing incinerator to reduce emissions and improve its operational efficiency.
  • Community engagement: Engage with local communities to address their concerns and develop solutions that minimize the negative impacts of the incinerator.
  • Environmental regulations: Implement stringent environmental regulations to ensure the incinerator operates in compliance with international standards.
  • Investment in infrastructure: Invest in infrastructure for waste collection, transportation, and processing to improve the overall waste management system.


Q: What is the current state of Guinea-Bissau’s waste management system?

A: The system is inadequate and overloaded, leading to a burgeoning landfill crisis and severe environmental pollution.

Q: What are the main challenges facing the government in addressing this issue?

A: Financial constraints, technical challenges, community resistance, and environmental concerns.

Q: What are some potential solutions for this problem?

A: Diversion strategies, incinerator modernization, community engagement, environmental regulations, and investment in infrastructure.

Q: What is the impact of the incinerator project on the local community?

A: The project has faced significant resistance due to concerns about air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and health impacts.


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