Social factors associated with improper waste disposal at the central market in Lilongwe City

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Urbanization in the developing countries such as Malawi has brought about a serious environmental degradation due to a rapid and uncontrolled population growth. One of the consequences of such population increase is improper waste disposal as solid waste is enormously generated. Additionally, poor sanitation facilities, along with high population pressure and waste management systems, are becoming a threat to the health of the residents of the cities. Current solid waste management in many places has not met the required standard for proper waste collection and disposal creating excess waste that accumulate within the urban environment causing immense health and environmental hazards. The deterioration of sanitation in the urban environment has reinforced incorrect disposal habits as people do not understand their individual impact on such an environment. The overall aim of this study was to explore the social factors associated with improper waste disposal at the Central Market in Lilongwe City. The study used a descriptive cross-sectional design where quantitative method of data collection from the respondents was used at Lilongwe Central Market. The target population was vendors who have been doing business at the market within a period of 6 months prior to the study and buyers who have been shopping at the central market within that same period. Systematic random sampling was used to select 128 vendors and 127 buyers who met the inclusion criteria at Lilongwe Central Market. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire and the analysis of the quantitative data was done using SPSS 16.0. The major findings of this study on social factors associated with improper waste disposal were; use of un-recommended methods to dispose waste at the market because of lack of bins and responsibility by vendors and buyers towards waste management. However, results showed that 78% of the respondents were willing to participate on issues concerning waste management in order to reduce health and environmental problems. In conclusion, improper waste disposal can cause health and environmental problems to the general public if proper measures are not put into place. For example, making waste bins available at strategic places in the market. Therefore, waste should be managed at all times to prevent negative outcomes.