Years of conflict and neglect have left Kabul's infrastructure in ruins. One of the most pressing problems facing the city is the past accumulation, the current generation and the disposal of solid waste. This problem is especially acute in Kabul, which has experienced rapid urban growth due to a large number of returnees and new urban dwellers (a daytime population of 3 million, and about a 300,000 floating population) and the increase in waste from growing economic activity. It is exacerbated by the absence of an effective strategy to deal with the problem and the municipality's lack of capacity to respond. The capacity deficit is reflected in the estimated 70% of total solid waste that is accumulated on roadsides, back yards, in drains, rivers and open places, and represents a significant environmental hazard. To bridge the transition between relief and development, the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, in consultation with the World Bank, developed an emergency project establishing basic systems in the department of sanitation of Kabul Municipality. Utilizing the accumulated experience of urban community development in Afghanistan, UN-HABITAT is responsible for implementing neighbourhood level solid waste collection in collaboration with the Municipality of Kabul. The programme´s objective is to benefit all the inhabitants of the city by improving their living environment and hygiene conditions, and raising awareness about the importance of solid waste management.
The main activities of the programme were: city-level solid waste collection and removal; capacity-building activities; neighbourhood-level organization; and, community awareness-raising and education. The programme established house-to-house solid waste collection by introducing the "Karachi System", whereby communities pay collection workers to remove the household waste and take it to the city collection point. The Municipality then transfers the waste to a dumping site. The project provided fuel, oil, the maintenance cost of trucks, and protective clothing for workers.
The programme has cleared approximately 179,000 m3 of solid waste from the city, organized 26 community meetings to mobilize and organize neighbourhood communities and undertaken approximately 172,287 visits to homes and schools by health educators, as a way of ensuring that health and sanitation issues are actively promoted throughout Kabul. Primary collection systems are working in at least 50% of the city's districts. At the institutional level, a Sanitation Department Management Administration gap assessment report and an Afghan Solid Waste Management glossary were produced, and coordination was improved between all relevant agencies and government institutions working on solid waste management-related issues in the city. The design and implementation of a public awareness campaign was implemented, which included: the production of leaflets on small-scale composting; a "Clean Kabul Day" held in two schools (targeting approximately 12,000 female and male students); a theatre campaign made up of two 10 minute sketches performed in more than 30 schools in Kabul (targeting approximately 50,000 students); and the broadcast of solid waste management-related awareness messages by three radio stations for two months.