Solid waste management in greater Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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Perdue, Brent Wallace

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Inadequate solid waste management is common in informal settlements across much of Latin America. In informal settlements, solid waste accumulates in empty lots and clogs channelized creeks, provoking public health risks and environmental degradation. In addition, inadequate solid waste management creates public health and environmental quality negative externalities that impact all citizens. In the metropolitan region of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, features of neoliberal urban governance impact solid waste management service provision. Decentralization, territorial division, and the retreat of the state simultaneously create challenges and opportunities for solid waste management in formal and informal settlements. I argue that these neoliberal urban governance features lead to improved conventional solid waste management in formal sectors of Santo Domingo municipalities, but hinder adequate solid waste management in informal settlements. Often, Santo Domingo municipal authorities attempt to apply convention solid waste management techniques, such as dumpster collection, in informal settlements. But, geographic features, infrastructure deficiencies, and citizen behaviors limit the success of conventional solid waste management approaches in informal settlements. Throughout Latin America, and in one Santo Domingo municipality, alternative solid waste management models are more effective at adequately managing solid waste in informal settlements. This work analyzes the impacts of neoliberal urban governance on solid waste management in the formal and informal settlements of Santo Domingo. Then, the work examines the opportunities and challenges of alternative solid waste management in Santo Domingo informal settlements. My results show that networked civil society can leverage neoliberal urban governance features to create effective alternative solid waste management models in Santo Domingo. The existing alternative solid waste management model in one Santo Domingo municipality can be replicated in other Santo Domingo municipalities to improve solid waste management in informal settlements and reduce the negative externalities that impact all citizens of Santo Domingo.


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