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The travel of global ideas of waste management. The case of Managua and its informal settlements

Journal article
Authors María José Zapata Campos
Patrik Zapata
Published in Habitat International
Volume 41
Issue January 2014
Pages 41-49
ISSN 0197-3975
Publication year 2014
Published at School of Public Administration
Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Pages 41-49
Language en
Keywords Waste management, Informal settlements, New institutionalism, Translation, Waste transfer station
Subject categories Sociology, Public Administration Studies, Globalization Studies, Settlement studies


Informal settlements in the global South cities are often neglected by formal solid waste collection services. In the city of Managua, the municipality and international and local NGOs recently imple- mented several waste management projects to provide waste collection in informal settlements. These projects supported or created cooperatives or microenterprises of waste pickers collecting household solid waste in barrios inaccessible to modern waste trucks. The projects also created three waste transfer stations, on barrio fringes, where the collected waste could be disposed and transported by municipal truck to the municipal landfill. New institutionalism theory and the “travel metaphor” illuminate how the “waste transfer station” idea travelled to Managua from various international organizations. New urban infrastructure and waste management models introduced by donors were decoupled from existing waste management models and practices. Despite the organizational hypocrisy of the city administra- tion, introducing this new model via pilot projects in three city districts challenges the logic of the existing centralized waste management system, which ignores the city’s informal settlements. The introduced waste transfer stations and associated waste collection practices were translated, and sometimes contested, in some informal settlements through protests, occupations, and other defiance strategies enacted by municipal waste collectors, squatters, and residents.

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