Investigating the Implementation of the 2007 National Solid Waste Management Policy in Sri Lanka

Author: Mahamadachchi Komalee Nadeeka Damayanthi

Damayanthi, Mahamadachchi Komalee Nadeeka , 2023 Investigating the Implementation of the 2007 National Solid Waste Management Policy in Sri Lanka, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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Municipal solid waste management is in crisis in contemporary Sri Lanka. Poor management and improper waste disposal have led to deaths, property damage, and severe health and environmental issues. These failures are evident despite the existence of the 2007 National Solid Waste Management Policy. By examining the political, institutional, legal, administrative, and contextual factors, this research has investigated the factors influencing the success and failure of the 2007 National Solid Waste Management Policy implementation in Sri Lanka.

This study employed an embedded multiple case study which focused on the Central Government, two provincial councils (Western and Southern), and two local governments (the Kaduweala Municipal Council and Ambalangoda Pradeshiya Sabhawa). Data were collected through thirty semi-structured interviews, two focus group discussions, a document review, and a set of photographs. The collected qualitative data were coded and analysed using NVIVO 12 software, while the quantitative data were analysed using simple statistical methods.

It is argued that the successful implementation of municipal solid waste management in Sri Lanka is destined to remain ineffective due to five key factors. Firstly, the complex institutional framework, which is characterised by a lack of clarity over responsibilities, and operates without coordination mechanisms across all levels of government. This creates administrative fragmentation resulting in overlapping institutional responsibilities of the multiple actors involved in policy implementation. Secondly, design and practical limitations associated with devolution in the Sri Lankan context. Difficulties arising due to devolution have included lack of coordination and consultation between levels of government, unclear constitutional provisions, and transfer responsibilities without allocation of sufficient resources to implement policies. Thirdly, a highly politicised governance system has also provided a significant opportunity for corruption in the midst of the absence of good governance practices. Fourth, there has been insufficient support from political and bureaucratic leaders. Finally, the municipal solid waste management system faces a lack of funds, human resources, and infrastructure, presenting a critical challenge to effective policy implementation. Until these issues are resolved no policy will be implemented effectively in Sri Lanka.

Considering the context of the current economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka, the thesis does not suggest infrastructure development to resolve municipal solid waste management issues. However, strategies for waste reduction (utilising the Polluter-pays principle, and volume-based fees) would encourage the resolution of a number of critical operational issues. Several governance issues emerging from decentralisation, especially those related to corruption and lack of transparency and accountability, could be addressed by implementing anti-corruption actions, including introducing an open access information system, and a recalling system for public representatives and bureaucrats.

This thesis makes a significant and original academic contribution that addresses a knowledge gap in the policy implementation literature in five ways. First, it contributes to academic understanding in complex governance contexts in developing countries by demonstrating that politics does not end when implementation begins. Secondly, it presents an empirical study of the applicability of the Multiple Streams Framework developed by Michael Howlett et al. In particular, this research focuses on the policy implementation phase of the framework. Thirdly, this research addresses the analytical gap of politics of policy implementation in complex governance context in developing countries. Fourthly, this research provides previously unavailable analysis to understand the root causes of municipal solid waste management failure across the three tiers of the Sri Lankan government. Lastly, this study provides the earliest evidence examining the complexity of the governance arrangements and its influence on the 2007 National Solid Waste Management Policy implementation failure. The practical implications will be useful to improve municipal solid waste management and provide insights into other policy areas not only for Sri Lanka, but also for other similar countries with complex, decentralised governance arrangements.

Keywords: Policy implementation, Multiple Streams Framework, Decentralisation, 2007 National Solid Waste Management Policy in Sri Lanka, 2019 Waste Management Policy in Sri Lanka,Municipal Solid Waste Management, Curruption, Politicisation, Provincial Councils, Pradeshiya Sabha, Governance, Good Governance, Contract-out, Meethotamulla Dump Site Collapsed, Devolution, Political Patronage, Political and Bureaucratic Interests, Public Service Delivery, Municipal Solid Waste Management System Challenges, Administrative Fragmentation, Coordination Issues, Policy Implementation in Developing Countries, Public Policy, Kaduwela Municipal Council, Ambalangoda Pradeshiya Sabhawa, Case Study,Southern Province In Sri Lanka, Western Province In Sri Lanka, The Problem Stream, The Policy Solution Stream, The Politics Stream, The Process Stream, The Programme Stream, Challenges in Policy Formulation, Institutional Complexity, Legal Complxity, 3R Principles, Waste Hierearchy, Integrated Sustainable Solid Waste Management, Zero Waste.

Subject: Policy and Administration thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2023
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Prof. Beverley Clarke