…what should be done?
The illegal dumping of waste has become a cause for concern in the City of Kwekwe with residents persistently disposing waste at undesignated places, this is despite the fact that waste contributes to 6% of the country’s emissions.
The situation comes at a time when the world is fighting to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and reduce the global gas emissions to a temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.
Some residents who spoke to this publication suggested that the City Council should introduce tax for those residents who are found disposing waste at illegal dumping areas since this has a serious repercussion on the health of the community as well as the environment as well.
“The way people dispose waste is unbearable. Sometimes we see grown up mothers throwing diapers at undesignated places. The city council once cleared all the dumpsites in my area but unfortunately residents have started disposing waste at the illegal areas again. From my own view I think the council should introduce fines for illegal dumping of waste. There is need to monitor from time to time the illegal dumping ‘hotspots’ in most places for example the one that is close to Dambudzo Primary in Mbizo 12 and violators need to be punished,” said a resident identified as Blessed.
Ward 4 councillor Mercy Ranga said perhaps there is also need to engage environmentalist to help out through awareness programs so that the community can understand why it is important to dispose waste properly even from grassroots level.
“I want to thank the Kwekwe City Council for their effort to clear the illegal dumps that had filled our places. But I have realized that the situation is recurring again. Resident are now disposing waste at the places that were cleared. What can we do as residents? I think there is need for the community to be educated on proper waste disposal. I wish if there are environmentalist who can also come forward and help the community on disposing of waste through community awareness and outreach programmes. We need to spread that education even in schools. We want to thank the council because they are doing their part in refuse collection on a regular basis. Yes, as council we face challenges here and there when our vehicles break down but we will keep playing our part to collect refuse,” she said.
Kwekwe Residents and Rate Payers Association Secretary General said there is need for everyone to play their role in cleaning the environment in the city from the residents themselves to the management at Kwekwe City Council.
“The residents here in Kwekwe themselves are careless. They just dispose waste at any open place. Ignoring the fact that waste is unhealthy to every person in the community. Residents are causing a lot of waste at the illegal dump-sites. It is really shocking to see a grown up man or women disposing waste by the side of the road. Then as for the management there is need for more education, more education from the council to the residents now on proper waste disposal,” he said.
Kwekwe Mayor Future Tutora said the council will do its best to have bins at most of the open places that are being used as dump-sites and then have a constant routine collection of refuse from there.
“With the little resources we have as a council we are going to fix bins in those areas as a matter of urgent. We also encourage residents not to dump garbage everywhere or possibly we will also consider imposing fines to any violators. Council will continue with its day to day removing of garbage and we will also try to have community health teams in the communities who will monitor the situation and report back to the council I think that might also help us,” she said.
Some of the waste from the illegal dump-sites block the drainage system thereby causing rainfall to flood houses during the rainy season. Last year during the rainy season most houses in Mbizo Section 15 were flooded with properties damaged due to blocked drainage system. The City Council has at many times advised residents not to throw waste at undesignated places to avoid blocking drainage system but nothing has changed.
Efforts to speak with Environmental Management Agency Midlands Provincial Manager Benson Bhasera were fruitless because he was in a meeting when called for comment. Later on he could not respond to messages sent on his WhatsApp before this story was published. However, the Environmental Management Act Chapter 20:27 demand for the protection of the environment, the prevention of pollution and environmental degradation, the preparation of a National Environmental Plan and other plans for the management and protection of the environment.
Climate Reality Leader and environmentalist Priyanka Naik says there is need for Kwekwe City Council to introduce recycling bays in the city while individuals also play their part in educating themselves on the importance of proper disposal.
“Over the past few year litter has increasingly posed a huge burden on the Zimbabwean environment, we see it on the side of the roads, we see it on overflowing bins and we see litter dumped on fields. Local government as well as individuals can take responsibility to decrease litter in all these areas from the local government what needs to be done is a mass education campaign on the effects of litter on the environment. From individual, individual responsibility needs to be taken to educate oneself on how we can decrease litter. What can be done, which companies are producing litter and why their products isn’t recyclable. Local government can also create recycling incentives to ensure that the amount of litter is reduced on the streets as individuals will be keen to recycle more,” she said.
Environmentalist Elizabeth Gulugulu concurred with Naik by adding that there should also be good policies in place to make sure that citizens are knowledgeable on what to do and that decision makers also make proper rules.
“Proper waste management is essential for sustainable and livable communities therefore it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that we manage our waste well. From policy level to the business communities to the citizens themselves. We need to come up with good policies. Good policies entails that the communities as citizens are knowledgeable and they know what to expect from the local authorities. Good policies entails there is proper rules and guidelines for decision makers themselves. So this is what we need. We need good policies in place. Then from the local authorities, they should be accountable. They should do their job. They should collect the waste because they are mandated to do that.
“The citizens also need to practice waste management. By waste management I am saying they can separate their waste, organic material can go back to the garden, old banana peels or food waste for example, can go to the garden and act as very good manure. The business community should also play their corporate social responsibilities because at the end of the day this is their waste that we are picking each and every time in the urban cities and they should put effort to make sure that communities are empowered, communities can be incentivized if they want to come up with waste management projects, it could be recycling, it could be making different kinds of ornaments from the waste that is generated.
“Above all we need to practice sustainable waste consumption. If we can practice how we eat, if we can practice how we buy food, this will also assist in reducing our waste. By that I hope we can come up with a circular economy by 2030. This will not come on its own but we need to put energy and work together so that it can be done and come up with strong business case and create more job opportunities so as to come up with green opportunities and also a green economy,” she said.
Community Voices Zimbabwe implores everyone to play an important role in protecting the environment so that we can reduce the rate of emissions in the country.