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A Systems Approach to Solid Waste Management in Mahiga Creek, Cebu City, Philippines

By jamesezkho Feb 10, 2012 3446 Words
University of the Philippines - Cebu College
Gorordo Ave., Barangay Camputhaw,
Lahug District, Cebu City

A systems approach to Solid Waste in the Mahiga Creek, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City, Philippines

James Earl E. Kho, MS-ES 1
ENS 211 (Sat 13:00-17:00)

Submitted to :
Prof. Jonnifer. Sinogaya


Mahiga Creek

The profile of the Mahiga creek has been altered by human occupation over time. The riparian segment of the Creek has been stripped of its vegetation and functionality of the remaining trees in the area. Mahiga Creek presently houses more than 200 families, most of which informally settled in the area for as long as 20 years. People have constructed various make shift homes over trees, shrubs, and grasses that would have otherwise benefit communities living in the creek. Instead, rampant pollution has overcome positive biological forces that used to provide shelter and ecological benefits to nearby establishments in the area.

Among the other bodies of water in-bound of Cebu City, the Mahiga Creek plays a significant ecological role that links various surface water streams originating from the mountainous slopes of Cebu down toward the central northern coast of Cebu City. This function supports drainage of surface water runoff from higher lands of Cebu City.

Due to a myriad of social, physical, and ecological factors that have affected the health and functionality of the Mahiga Creek, affected communities, policy makers, members of the media, and many more of have observed that flooding now reaches as high as 3-4 feet in depth from the floor up to the waist within and around area of SM City Cebu, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City. This has obviously affected a vast number of the commuting public as it has been reported to damage motors and electrical components of automotives.

The presence of settlers in the Mahiga Creek prevents the natural gravitational flow water from upstream sources to the coast due to the obstructions caused by crudely built homes and massive accumulation of garbage (including human waste) in the Riparian zone of the river bed. Riparian land is defined as ‘any land which adjoins, directly influences, or is influenced by a body of water. However, there is no rule of nature that defines the ‘width’ of riparian land: the width of interest or concern is largely determined by the management objectives (LWRRDC, 1999).

Review of Related Literature

Solid Waste Management in Cebu City
A study of the waste discharge amount of Cebu City in 2001 supports that people living in Cebu throws 511 tons/day or 57% of composes residential and non-residential related wastes. The current waste collection rate in Cebu City is at 80%. While the waste discharge amount is estimated at 0.7 kg/person/day. (Villarete, N.G.C, City Administrator, Cebu City)

Civil society and policy makers should be encouraged to understand the value of proper Solid Waste Management (SWM) or recycling practices, and effects of land use modification, and water transfers. Waste Amount Forecasts

The following table shows the projected total solid waste generation in Cebu City in the next 10 years based on an annual 2% growth rate for residential wastes and 4% growth rate for non-residential wastes. The projected growth rates are proportionate to the growth of the city residents’ personal consumption, commercial and industrial activity, and social and cultural interaction. [pic]

The non-residential wastes include all wastes other than the residential wastes, such as wastes discharged from shops, streets, parks, schools, offices, tourists, etc. Presently, there is no available information on the breakdown of non-residential wastes to commercial, industrial, school, office wastes, etc.

Waste Property Forecasts
Replacing conventional small shops with large shopping malls and supermarkets will increase packaging materials, which are required to carry goods to their homes. The economic growth will change people’s lifestyles leading to an increase in demand for fast foods. This will result to an increase of packaging wastes. [pic]

Constructing vulnerability
The level of urbanization in the Philippines, that is the proportion of urban population to the total, rose from 21.7 per cent in 1950 to 47.6 percent in 1997 (Rebullida, 1999: 16; Ibon, 2000: 66). Most of these people were poor and could not afford the high costs of land, housing materials and construction. Land values throughout the country increased 12 to 15 times between 1940 and 1969 but 27 times in the NCR. In the 1980s, land prices rose 35 to 40 times in Quezon City, 50 to 80 times in Makati, 250 to 400 times in Diliman and a staggering 2,000 times in Escolta. In 1996, the CBD was registering an annual increase of 50 per cent and even the value of land in peripheral areas rose by 25 per cent annually (Rebullida, 1999: 16– 17). As a consequence, migrants have generally had to find accommodation in the informal housing sector becoming interchangeably squatters (illegal occupiers of land), slum dwellers (residing in blighted urban communities) and makeshift dwellers (living in shelters made of scrap materials). Such neighborhoods are often situated on the urban fringes or wastelands that proliferate in Third World cities, especially near to areas that provide work and along major transport hubs and links.

Take for example the case in Metro Manila, the banks of rivers, canals and esteros have frequently served in this capacity. Since the demand for land is at such a premium, spaces that are vacant or only nominally owned by national, city or municipal authorities prove particularly attractive as locales for squatters. The result is that makeshift housing often encroaches on to available waterways, blocking the access of maintenance personnel and equipment from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) or the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and, by a gradual process of accretion, narrows their flow capacity and diminishes the volume of discharge they are able to handle (Labrador and Bualat, 1996–7: 44). A recent report submitted by the Office of the City Engineer details the specific histories of how such processes actually occur. How the Estero de Tanque in Paco was partly filled in and is now occupied by adjacent lot owners and squatters; how the Estero Tripa de Gallina in Santa Ana was subdivided and disposed of by the Land Authority to tenants during the administration of President Macapagal; and how a portion equivalent to 1,788.30 square meters of the Estero de Aviles in San Miguel was titled to a certain Arsenio Dy of 3011 Nagtahan, Sampaloc as TCT Nos. 67,425 and 67,426. Nor are squatters and the urban poor the only ones responsible for these encroachments. Thus the Estero de Maytubig in Malate that has been dried up since 1925 is currently occupied by the Agno-Leveriza government subdivision, Bank Plaza and the Manila Zoo among others, or the Estero de Concordia in Paco that is currently included in the private land title of the Manila Gas Corporation (Aboy, n.d.). The extent of the esteros problem is indicated by the number of what are termed informal settler families (ISFs) that were deemed by the DPWH to be in urgent need of relocation before the onset of the rainy season in 2001. Priority areas included 279 families living near or on the Estero de Valanecia, 336 on the Estero de San Miguel, 200 on the Estero de Aviles, 151 on the Estero de Santibañez, 858 on the Estero de Magdalena and 650 on the Estero de San Lazaro totalling 2,474 families and costing an estimated P208 million to relocate (DPWH, 2001). Recent estimates of ISFs living along the banks of the metropolis’s waterways are 27,300 families — or some 164,000 people (Fano, 2000: 59).

Unfortunately, the construction of informal housing is not the only environmental problem related to the encroachment and gradual infilling of esteros. Residential communities are primarily responsible for generating about half the total volume of the metropolitan area’s solid wastes. Metro Manila inhabitants disposed of 6,050 tons of garbage daily in 1995 with an annual increase estimated at 2 per cent and were generating on average 0.71 kilograms of waste per person per day by 2000 (Ibon, 2001: 4–5). Only 71 per cent of this rubbish is collected by trucks and taken to landfill centers. The remaining 1,750 or so tons are simply left on street corners, dumped on vacant lots or thrown into storm drains, canals, creeks or rivers. Anything from rubber tires to dead animals are disposed of in this manner. A study completed in 1995 found that from 0.9 to 2.6 per cent of people in the NCR, according to age, disposed of their trash in the esteros, the under-30s being far less environmentally conscious than the over-60s (Perez et al., 1995). Altogether, this represents an amount of from 55 to 157 tons of solid wastes each day that clog the network of drainage canals, posing a considerable risk to health and greatly increasing the likelihood of flooding. That such a quantity of waste represents a serious threat to flood-control measures is borne out by the quantity of garbage recorded at the metropolitan area’s various pumping stations and related facilities. Approximately 15,500 cubic meters of rubbish accumulates annually around the capital’s 16 pumping stations and two trash screens, although the volume at any one time can vary enormously from the average 29 cubic meters at Makati to the 4,217 cubic meters at Tripa de Gallina. Although the total amount of accumulated garbage actually fell in 2000, more worrying is the trend that suggests a steady decline in the percentage of garbage that is collected with corresponding risks to the maintenance and efficiency


This study attempts to determine the effect of the presence of estero (people living in the riparian area of a waterbed) in the Mahiga Creek and its relation to the accumulation of solid waste in the Mahiga Creek.

This proposal emphasizes the need for environmental evaluation factored in to formulate a more holistic approach to improve living conditions in the Mahiga Creek. Solid waste management and recycling as a means to improve the ecological state of the surrounding environment should never be disregarded and therefore, be studied more carefully to compliment current and future efforts to improve standards of living for both Civil Society and the affected families that reside in the Mahiga Creek.

Research Questions

1. What is the effect of accumulation of solid waste in the Mahiga Creek? 2. What is the physical carrying capacity of the Mahiga Creek in terms of land area? 3. Up to what extend do the residents of Mahiga Creek contribute to the accumulation of solid waste in the area? 4. Is the solid waste in the Mahiga Creek brought about primarily by residents?

Definition of terms

1. Solid Waste
a. Solid waste means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded materials including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material, resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations, and from community activities 2. Accumulation

a. Increase or growth of solid waste in the area by addition especially when continuous or repeated. 3. Residents
a. One who resides within the bounds of the Mahiga Creek system permanently or for an extended period.

4. Mahiga Creek
a. With a latitude of 10.32 (10° 18' 55 N) and a longitude of 123.92 (123° 55' 5 E), is a hydrographic (stream) located in the area / state of Cebu City in Philippines that is a part of Asia. b. The location is situated 364 kilometers south east (145°) of the approximate center of Philippines and 574 kilometers south east (146°) of the captial Manila. c. A 10 square km area around Mahiga Creek has an aproximate population of close to 700 families and an average elevation of 12 meters above the sea. 5. Collection Rate

a. The frequency of collection conducted by Cebu Local Government Unit in an area. 6. Amount Collected
a. The Average amounts gathered by garbage collectors, in proportion to the solid waste disposed by residents in the Mahiga Creek. 7. Residential & Non-Residential Waste Generated
a. Waste disposed and produced by either people living in the Mahiga Creek; and neighboring non-residential establishments, 8. Proper Disposal
a. The practical application of solid waste management practices (i.e. Segregation, recycling) and manifestations among concerned respondents. 9. Improper Disposal
a. The non-practice of basic solid waste management practices (i.e. Segregation, recycling) and manifestations among concerned respondents.

Scope and limitations of the study

This study looks into the solid waste management situation in Mahiga Creek, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City, Philippines as a system. It looks specifically, into the wastes generated, its generators, and the authorities involved in its management.

This research specifically aims to study the accumulation of solid waste disposal over time given the current rate/level of disposal and collection of garbage. However, solid waste programs such as recycling and composting initiatives of the local government unit and other concerned bodies in the area are not focused in this study due to the lack of local programs and establishments in its respective field.

Finally, due to time constraints in the completion of this proposal, the figures therein presented are based from various secondary sources, online literature, materials from related articles, and resources found in local and national government text.

Project Objectives:

1. To identify the factors that contributes to the increase in the present solid waste in the Mahiga Creek. 2. To know whether the residents of the Mahiga Creek is the primary contributing factor of the accumulation of solid waste in the area or otherwise. 3. To produce a model that will simulate the solid waste accumulation in the Mahiga Creek with the use of data sourced from various government-produced literatures over a period of time using STELLA ® high performance system.

RESEARCH methodology

A. Overview of approach
This study employs a case study analysis method wherein various cases and research findings will be used as data for analysis and interpretation. Significant data gathered from relevant sources shall be illustrated and analyzed using the STELLA® High Performance System where in variables involved in the study will be simulated through a diagram. It shall also determine the relationship and interdependence among the variables considered in this study. This study primarily focuses on the population, amount of waste disposed, solid waste disposal, and collection by local government as variables in this system over time. Basically, it intends to conclude the effects of residences in the area in relation with the accumulation of solid waste which consequently relate the amount of solid waste disposed and practices.

B. Project Site (Data Collection)
The study shall be conducted within the communities in and around the Mahiga Creek - located within the North Reclamation Area of Cebu City, roughly about 300 meters away from establishments like SM City Cebu, APM Mall, and about a kilometer away from the Cebu International Port. The Mahiga Creek is a riverbank surrounded by make-shift homes or “shanties” constructed by informal settlers during the early years of development of Cebu - between the 1980’s and 1990’s. Today, the Mahiga creek is home to more than 200 families, most of which are impoverished and have inadequate means of acquiring better commodities such as health and education.

The Mahiga Creek’s ecological function has been degraded through the years due to widespread pollution and chiefly because of accumulation of solid wastes in surface water channels that would have otherwise allow water to pass through, all of which were factored in occupation of people, and their related activities in the creek. This paper aims to seek to give an understanding of the choices considered by residents in locating their living spaces in the Mahiga Creek despite possibility of chronic, rampant flooding and substandard living conditions. It was projected that there were 700 households/families settling along Mahiga Creek. ( Residences along the Mahiga Creek were mainly composed of squatters and slum dwellers who constructed makeshift homes. This population will be used as one of the initial variable for determining the effects and pollution in the are. Despite the local ordinance of the city to collect and segregate garbage, solid waste continues to accumulate and flooding becomes a possibility that people neglect on normal days.

C. Econometric Analysis
Assessment of Solid Waste Management Practices
Household demand for solid waste services is a function of the unit price of solid waste services and other determining factors such as wage, non-wage income, prices of consumption goods, prices received for recyclables, waste components of market goods and quantity of wastes generated by non-market goods (Jenkins 1993). Other socio-economic characteristics are included in models such as household size, age and education. The variables, income and household size, are surrogates for the unobserved household production activities which generate waste as a by-product (Hong et al. 1993).

Some researchers have used this demand for solid waste services framework to model the determinants of household waste recycling (Hong et al. 1993; Jenkins et al. 2000; Reschovsky and Stone 1994). However, due to data problems on recycling quantities, the studies adopted the binary choice modeling approach because the data observed is dichotomous in nature, i.e., whether or not a household solid waste management practices. The dependent variable in a binary choice model is a dichotomous variable where Y=1 if a household recycles or Y=0 if it does not recycle.

Jenkins et al. (2000) examined the intensity of recycling different waste materials using an ordered probit model where the dependent variable, i.e., intensity of recycling each material (categorized in 3 levels), is a function of unit price of waste disposal, some characteristics of the local waste management system, and socio-economic factors like household income, age and home ownership. Using the same model, Hong et al. (1993) modeled household recycling participation or the number of times it recycles over a period of time (categorized in 5 levels) as a function of disposal price and socio-economic variables.

This study examines household waste segregation behavior using binary choice modeling following the studies discussed above. Waste segregation is an activity undertaken to facilitate recycling and disposal and thus entails household resources such as time, space and effort in the same manner as waste recycling. This household activity consists basically of the separation or sorting of wastes into recyclables and non-recyclables, and storing these wastes in separate containers to facilitate recycling and disposal. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the household’s decision to engage in waste segregation will be determined by the same factors that influence its decision to engage in recycling activities. However, since the amount or level of effort of waste segregation done by the household is also not observable, the study adopted a dichotomous or binary choice model.

Data Analysis

A simulation of the accumulation of solid waste over time will be presented using the STELLA® High Performance software. STELLA is a computer software program with an interface for building dynamic models that realistically simulate biological systems (Rice et al., 2002). The procedure used in STELLA modeling involves: 1) Constructing a relational model of the system using icons that represent state and rate variables and arrows and flows that represent interrelated components; 2) Quantifying the relationships among elements in the model; and 3) Running the model to observe the system dynamics (American Society for Horticultural Science, 2004; Rice et al., 2002).

STELLA is an object oriented programming language that uses an iconographic interface to facilitate construction of dynamic systems structure (STELLA, 2004). The essential features of the system are defined in terms of stocks, flows and auxiliary parameters (Constanzaa, 1998). Essentially STELLA simulates a system over time, jump the gap between theory and the real world and clearly communicate system inputs and outputs and demonstrate outcomes (STELLA, 2006).

Theoretical FrameworK



1. Implementation and Financing of Solid Waste Management in the Philippines, Zenaida M. Sumalde, 2005 2. What Motivates Farmers? Tree Growing and Land Use Decisions in the Grasslands of Claveria, Philippines, Canesio D. Predo, 2003 3. Constructing Vulnerability: The Historical, Natural and Social Generation of Flooding in Metropolitan Manila, Greg Bankoff, 2003 4. Modeling Choices for Ecological Solid Waste Management in Suburban Municipalities: User Fees in Tuba, Philippines, Antonio Corinthia C. Naz, Mario Tuscan N. Naz, 2006 5. Solid Waste Management in Cebu City, Villarete, N.P.C,

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