Home Waste aspects Environmental and health aspects Municipal Strategic Planning for Solid Waste Management, Concepts and Tools

Municipal Strategic Planning for Solid Waste Management, Concepts and Tools

What it is Strategic Planning when it comes to Solid Waste Management (SWM)?

Strategic Planning is a very adaptable methodology where the only thing fixed is the final objective: Integrated Sustainable Waste Management System. By keeping that in mind, all stakeholders work on identifying obstacles on the road to a sustainable system and finding solutions to overcome them. Strategic Planning offers the opportunity to deliver sustainable improvements to local waste management practices because it can respond to the everchanging waste situation quickly.

Strategic Planning is necessary to ensure that MSWM services keep pace with demand, are appropriate to needs, contribute to a sound and sanitary environment, are cost-effective and build continuously on existing and new opportunities offered. It leaves the possibility towards mixed solutions open eg. donkey carts and compactor trucks can play a role in solid waste collection in one city.

Planning is a process and not an event. It is the framework that helps us identify our starting point (''Where are we now''), our objective (''Where do we want to be in the future''), the way to reach our objective (''How are we going to get there'') and finally how do we measure our progress. The performance of a plan in meeting its objectives must be evaluated and taken forward as a major input into further planning cycles. The objective should be to ensure sustainable improvements to service coverage and standards.

Strategic Planning WASTE, 2010


How do you Strategically Plan your Solid Waste Management activities?

1. A widely used tool for SWM strategic planning at municipal level is the '' Strategic Guide for Municipal Solid Waste Management '', developed for the Collaborative Working Group (CWG) on Municipal Solid Waste Management by Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and associated specialists in 2001.

The process identifies 7 concrete steps towards strategically planning municipal solid waste management practices.

Strategic Planning (ERM, 2001-03)

Each of the steps identified includes sub-activities and has a list of expected outcomes.

Step 1: Mobilise the planning Process.

  • Agreement on working together: A formal document signed by key stakeholders confirming their commitment to undertake the strategic planning process i.e. a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU can be used as legally binding the involved stakeholders wish it to be.

  • Determining who will do what: A Steering Committee (SC) is established to direct and monitor the strategic planning process. This Steering Committee can be supported or supplemented by Working Groups that will undertake the organization, facilitation and technical work required to develop the strategic plan.

  • What to do and how it will be done: Terms of Reference (ToR) and a Work Plan laying out the roles and responsibilities of SC and Working Groups, the structure and timing of the planning process, the expected outputs at each stage and the participative character of the process. In addition, the expected costs of the planning process have to be estimated and included in a Budget, for which funds will need to be found.

Step 2: Define Baseline

  • A Baseline Study or audit of MSWM in your City providing an overview of the existing MSWM system.

  • A Key Issues to be Addressed document can be the last section of the Baseline Study or a stand-alone document, which will form the starting point for Step 3.

Step 3:Establish Strategic Planning Framework 

  • The main output of Step 3 is an agreed Strategic Planning Framework, which all stakeholders are committed to and with which they feel engaged. It should be noted that the Strategic Plan is designed to address issues over a longer term planning horizon than is common in many countries. This usually means between 10-20 years a period, which allows for the construction and payback of investment in waste management infrastructure and equipment. A period of 5 years is established for the Action Plan, with an Immediate Action Plan detailing requirements over the first 1-2years.

Step 4: Identify and Evaluate Options

  • The main output of this step is a complete analysis of the strategic planning priorities and the identification of possible solutions to these priority problems. Stakeholder agreement on the preferred options to address each of these priority problems will be obtained through a series of general and specialist workshops at the beginning of Step 5 of the planning process.

Step 5: Develop Strategy

  • The main output is a Final Strategy document that has been agreed upon by all key stakeholders and that will act as a ‘framework’ for preparation of the Action Plan in Step 6. Intermediate outputs include: a list of draft strategy proposals (Activity 1) and the draft Strategy (Activity 2).

Step 6: Prepare Action Plan

  • The Action and Investment Plans, which are developed for the first two to five years of the plan.

Step 7: Implement Strategic Plan

  • Thekey output of this stage is a successful MSWM system, which has been improved in line with the priorities, objectives and targets established in the Strategic Plan, while it is supported by stakeholder groups.

The Strategic Guide for Municipal Solid Waste Management can be accessed for free at the following link:


2. A more general tool for municipal planning is the ''Municipal Development Strategy Process, A toolkit ofr Practitioners'', developed by VNG International in 2010.

The process identifies 4 concrete stages for the creation of a municipal strategy. The following diagram shows these stages with their corresponding duration.

Strategic Planning (VNG, 2010)


Each stage consists of a number of substeps which define the type of outcome expeted.

Stage 1: Get Organised

Step 1: Ensure Political Commitment and Leadership
Step 2: Appoint Strategy Coordinator
Step 3: Consider Engaging Technical Assistance
Step 4: Engage the Partnership
Step 5: Set up the Operational Structure
Step 6: Prepare and agree operational rules & work plan
Step 7: Kick-off with a publicity campaign

Strategic Planning

Stage 2: Situation Analysis

Step 1: Assess the strategic context (PESTL Analysis)
Step 2: Gather info on Socio-economic municipal profile
Step 3: Carry out Municipal Capacity & Resource assessment
Step 4: Prepare a  SWOT Analysis
Step 5: Obtain broad consensus
Step 6: Continue Improving your knowledge base

Strategic Planning
Stage 3: Strategy Formulation

Step 1: Create a municipal vision
Step 2: Develop Objectives & Priorities
Step 3: Develop Indicators of Achievement
Step 4: Create a budget
Step 5: Describe delivery mechanism
Step 6: Draw up the strategy
Step 7: Endorse the strategy

Stage 4: Implement Strategy

Step 1: Identify and select priority projects
Step 2: Focusing and Sequencing
Step 3: Create a pipeline of projects
Step 4: Project funding and delivery
Step 5: Monitor Progress
Step 6: Proactive Implementation Management
Step 7: Review the Strategy

The toolikit can be downloaded free of charge from the VNG website: