Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 545-570; doi:10.3390/su6020545

How Assessment Methods Can Support Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries—A Critical Review

1 Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries (Sandec), Überlandstrasse 133, P.O. Box 611, Duebendorf 8600, Switzerland 2 Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture, Land, Environment and Mathematics, University of Brescia, via Branze 43, Brescia I-25123, Italy
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 November 2013; in revised form: 9 January 2014 / Accepted: 15 January 2014 / Published: 27 January 2014
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Abstract: Selecting actions for improvement of solid waste management in low and middle income countries and understanding how a specific decision choice will fit and impact on a local context is key to identifying sustainable solutions. Assessment of the choice (be it technical or managerial) and assessment of the local enabling or disabling conditions are both important steps in the decision making process. Various assessment tools and methods are currently available to support decision-making in solid waste management. Assessment can be used to identify weaknesses or strengths of existing systems in a structured way and hereby highlight factors of success and failure. Assessment methods can also evaluate and compare different possible choices as in project scenarios. This overview describes established and innovative assessment methods serving both these purposes. A range of assessment tools are often designed to assess a specific sustainability domain (technical, environmental and health, economic and financial, social and institutional, organizational aspects), others attempt to provide a more holistic picture by integrating different sustainability domains into the same tool. This paper reviews a number of methods describing and discussing each of them, and referring to their use in low and middle-income countries if published in scientific literature. The overview concludes that in low- and middle-income countries the use of comprehensive assessment methods is yet very limited. We hypothesize that most formal methods of assessment are still too complex and generally overburden the weak local capacities intended for their usage. The few applications identified, were conducted by academia for scientific purposes. Lack of resources to collect the vast data required for some assessment methods is a further restriction to their practical application. Future development is suggested to improve user friendliness of existing tools or to simplify certain approaches and develop more appropriate methods. A user-oriented focus in the development of assessment tools would enhance their application, provide sound data for informed decision making and foster a dialogue between technicians and policy makers in low- and middle-income countries.
Keywords: assessment methods; evaluation methodologies; developing countries; sustainability; decision making support tools; solid waste management

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zurbrügg, C.; Caniato, M.; Vaccari, M. How Assessment Methods Can Support Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries—A Critical Review. Sustainability 2014, 6, 545-570.

AMA Style

Zurbrügg C, Caniato M, Vaccari M. How Assessment Methods Can Support Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries—A Critical Review. Sustainability. 2014; 6(2):545-570.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zurbrügg, Christian; Caniato, Marco; Vaccari, Mentore. 2014. "How Assessment Methods Can Support Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries—A Critical Review." Sustainability 6, no. 2: 545-570.

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