State capitals suffering from underinvestment in sanitation, expert says

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brazil's state capitals are receiving approximately five times less investment in sanitation than similar cities abroad, waste management specialist Carlos Alberto Almeida Júnior told BNamericas.

"The average annual investment in cities such as Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Goiânia, and Belo Horizonte is some 88 reais [US$49] per capita," said Almeida, who is the president of waste management company Vega Engenharia Ambiental.

Other capital cities around the world, including some with smaller populations, are averaging some 480 reais per capita, according to a study by Brazil's public sanitation association (ABLP) and São Paulo urban cleaning companies union SELUR.

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Brazil needs to invest massively in this area and local governments need to find ways to come up with funding, according to the executive.

Taxing residents on solid waste is one solution but it is currently used only rarely in Brazil. Some 40.1% of municipalities in the country fail to tax residents on solid waste, and those that do so are not charging enough, according to Almeida. The average charge is 31 reais per person per year.

Vega Engenharia Ambiental provides solid waste management and urban sanitation services in the states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul.

The company is part of the Solví group, which serves 170 municipalities and 20 companies in Brazil and Peru. In 2010, the group collected 3.2Mt of domestic waste from more than 10mn residents.