Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Weekly Salaries Of Civil Servants As A Solution To Waste Management


By Musyani Siame Consultant – Water and Environment

Government should seriously consider migrating the payment of civil service salaries to a weekly basis of every month. There are numerous benefits of weekly payment which include control of road and human traffic, good management of public health to avoid diseases like Cholera and Dysentery, availability of money in people’s pockets throughout the month, control of bank queues, avoid blockages of water drainages with garbage during rainy season and most importantly, it is an effective measure for managing domestic waste.

For several years now, government has somehow been paying its civil servants on the same date of the month commonly known as (month-end). If it is not the same date it is more or less within a few days’ difference. This has proven toxic by posing a significant challenge on domestic waste (garbage) management in all of the country’s cities particularly Lusaka. In fact, it has been observed that garbage levels in cities become high and unmanageable during paydays common to every first and last week of the month because people usually buy things at the same time in similar fashion.

More seriously, paying civil servants salaries at the same time is not suitable for managing domestic waste in cities. This points to the issue of money coming in at the same time and people having the ability to spend it in supermarkets, domestic markets, public and private transport and personal items. As a result, the demand for and use of packaging materials such as plastic bags, paper bags, carton boxes, sacks, and other carrier items increases, resulting in massive and unmanageable garbage piles on the streets. When people are paid at the same time, human traffic increases and so does food consumption leading to an increase in garbage on the streets.

Unfortunately, city councils do not provide enough garbage bins. During this pay period, the few bins placed around towns are usually full and not emptied on time. Due to high human traffic, waste tends to pile up quickly around the bins and other undesignated dump areas until it becomes enormous and unmanageable.

In fact, it should be acknowledged that the amount of waste generated when people get paid at the same time exceeds the capacity of the city councils to handle it, resulting in dirty cities and in turn becoming an environmental hazard. I urge government to consider changing its policy to distribute civil service salaries on a weekly basis so that garbage can be managed in a more sustainable manner.

For instance, there are 25 cabinet ministries and 4 weeks in a month. Rolling out salaries of civil the civil service throughout the month is not an impossible idea. For example, in the first week of the month, government can allocate 6 ministries and pay salaries. Pay 6 more ministries in the second and third weeks of the month, and the remaining 7 ministries can be paid at the end of the month. Other special divisions such as Office of the Vice President, State House etc. can also be allocated in that manner. I hold the view that if this policy can be implemented, it has the great potential to relieve city councils of the burden of managing enormous quantities of domestic waste in cities as an environmental waste control option.

The fact is that garbage is the city councils’ number one enemy. So, to assist in making Zambia clean, the government must take such drastic policy shift as an intervention measure. Once the government implements this policy, the private sector may follow suit, alleviating a significant burden on city councils to collect and dispose-off garbage in a sustainable and manageable manner for cleaner cities and reducing the environmental risk of uncollected garbage.


  1. Botswana has moved away from the month-end syndrome by grouping civil servants into 4 groups. Each group is allocated dates of Salary payments from January to December. They are scattered over the month. The only workers left for the month’s end are those in the private sector. This also works well for businesses as they don’t have to wait for the month’s end to have improved business.

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