In Africa the majority of solid waste data is for big cities. Small and rural towns are generally neglected and waste data from these areas are often unavailable, which makes planning a proper solid waste management difficult. This paper presents the results from two waste characterization projects conducted in Kétao, a rural town in Togo during the rainy season and the dry season in 2010. The seasonal variation has a significant impact on the waste stream. The household waste generation rate was estimated at 0.22 kg person−1 day−1 in the dry season and 0.42 in the rainy season. Likewise, the waste moisture content was 4% in the dry season while it was 33–63% in the rainy season. The waste consisted mainly of soil and dirt characterized as ‘other’ (41%), vegetables and putrescibles (38%) and plastic (11%). In addition to these fractions, considerable amounts of material are either recycled or reused locally and do not enter the waste stream. The study suggests that additional recycling is not feasible, but further examination of the degradability of the organic fraction is needed in order to assess whether the residual waste should be composed or landfilled.