Skip to main content

Vanier scholar, Lusungu Kayani Stearns

November 02, 2023

Lusungu Kayani Stearns

A census study on Zanzibar's informal waste sector: a tool to inform the design of circular policy and strategy in the Africa region.

Vanier scholar, Lusungu Kayani Stearns is a doctoral researcher in geography. She is studying the informal waste sector, specifically the people who contribute to recovering waste in African cities.

"I am interested in waste management due to the high urbanization rates and the burgeoning waste crisis in the region," says Stearns.

"In Tanzanian cities, where my research will be based, solid waste collection rates hover at 30% ; this figure, similar to other cities in the region, leads to widespread burning, burying, and landfilling," explains Stearns.

The informal waste sector fills the gap by collecting 60-80 percent of waste but Stearns says little is known about this sector whose contributions are often unacknowledged.

"My work seeks to delve into this often under-researched and poorly prioritized area by better understanding the role the sector plays in creating healthier and liveable cities," says Stearns.

Through community-based participatory research, with key stakeholders, Stearns will document  the work of the sector, specifically looking at issues such as, who is in the sector, how they access waste materials, the challenges and obstacles faced, what materials are recovered and how they are reused.

Stearns hopes that through the co-generation of research with the informal waste sector, she will be able to provide much needed knowledge and evidence for transforming existing waste management systems, and cities, to be more efficient and inclusive.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships are funded through the three federal research granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of CanadaThese scholars are the next generation of top-tier doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers in health, natural sciences and engineering, and social sciences and humanities.