Malawi youths clean-up capital: Voluntary youth service week

Youths on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 conducted a ‘Clean Up’ campaign around the Lilongwe City main Market and along the Malangalanga Road. The Market and street cleaning was part of the Voluntary Youth Service Week (VYS-Week) running from December 10-16.

It was organised by the Youth Consultative Forum (YCF), which is a youth movement comprising individual youths and various youth groups set to promote meaningful youth participation in development through collective voice and action focusing on youth development, empowerment and policy dialogue.

“The VYS-Week is one of the resolutions youth delegates made during a Young Leaders Conference that was held on October 10, 2012 where young leaders across the nation convened to assess the impact of the political and economic crises that have been engulfing Malawi for the past few years and to discuss the role of youths in addressing the resultant socio-economic challenges.

“The resolution to conduct the VYS-Week was made as a commitment from youths to contribute to and accelerate the economic recovery efforts as also contained in the government-led Economic Recovery Plan (ERP),” Edward Chileka, YCF National Coordinator, told Nyasa Times in an interview.

Youths had to face off trafic

According to Chileka, the cleaning exercise was chosen as a strategic activity to underscore the potential contribution of hygiene and sanitation in homes, streets and markets to economic recovery.

It was observed that most of our streets, markets and even the residential areas are indeed a poor site to see and not conducive to attracting customers, visitors and even tourists (Tourism if one of the five focus areas of the ERP).

“Customers prefer clean markets and shops and this would translate into more sales for the traders. Surely, many customers with some relative buying power prefer patronising clean shops the majority of which are multi-national companies to shops and selling points whose surroundings are dirty and filthy.

“Clean and hygienic environments could also attract tourist who can bring the much needed forex. Surely, dirty and filthy streets and markets are a big hindrance to the “Buy Malawi Campaign” as most of local products are normally sold within the dirty environments.

It is expected also that the City Assembly will save some resources that can be allocated to other pressing needs.

“More so, improved hygiene and sanitation in the streets and markets areas can help prevent water and air borne disease during this rain season and hence reduce demand for health services that are heavily subsidised by government,” he said.

In addition, according to the National Coordinator, the Clean Up campaign intended to question why city assemblies, market authorities and the nation as a whole “miserably fail in waste disposal and management”.

“Is it a problem of lack of resources or negligence or a deep rooted culture off carelessness? It is baffling to see city, district and market authorities failing to clean up our streets and markets while they collect market fees and other forms of revenues every day. Individual citizens are also to blame. The culture of just throwing litter any how does not help matters either,” said Chileka.

While the youths were cleaning the streets and market area, the message was clear: “We do not need to see litter and debris piling up for months. Youths worked hard as their social responsibility to “Give Back to Mother Malawi”.

During the Voluntary Youth Service Week, youths have lined up several activities such as tree planting, rehabilitation and construction projects and charity work. One of the targeted projects is the rehabilitation of the Area 24 Police Station, which was looted and torched during one of the political protests earlier this year.

Youths Cleaning the market area
Youths happy doing it
Youths cleaning some section

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