A group of concerned youths in Ndirande, Blantyre, trending as Community Impact Group — which is inculcating waste management by converting it into compost fertilizer — has taken the campaign to another level by hands-on clearing of worrisome careless disposal of trash.
There is great concern that the rampant careless disposal of waste in Ndirande can amplify the current cholera outbreak in the area as well as the whole Blantyre City as the rainy season is picking up.
Distressed that the residents of Malabada Constituency in Ndirande are disposing their household waste anyhow in open spaces — while markets garbage keep piling up due to failure by the Blantyre City Council to collect the waste — the group initiated a campaign in which they ask community members to store their household waste products and hand them over to them to recycle into compost fertilizer.
The group were trained of this compost fertilizer expertise by Waste Advisors organisation and due to financial constraints, they periodically pick up waste which households store for them, but as they delay, community members resort to carelessly trash on open spaces.
With the rainy season picking up and getting concerned that this might amplify the cholera outbreak, the group has decided to roll out a hands-on clearing campaign in line with the National Clean-up Day which President Lazarus Chakwera launched in 2020 but went into hibernation due to the CoVID-19 pandemic.
The clean-up was initiated to promote both organised and individual clean up events and volunteering to keep the outdoors clean under the theme: ‘A Clean Environment: My right, My Responsibility’.
The Ndirande Impact Group also inculcates agroforestry as they also grow tree seedlings which they will plant on Ndirande Mountain during the forestry season, in liaison with community members who farm on its bare land.
These farmers provide dry maize stocks to the Impact Group to build on the organic waste and together they agreed to mobilize themselves to clear the waste that piled up along the road to Ndirande Mountain — close to Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) neighbourhood popularly known as Malaysia.
They were equipped with industrial gloves, gumboots, drums, a wheelbarrow, digging fork, slashers — which was the starter pack that Waste Advisors provided at the end of their training for compost fertilizer.
One of the directors Nephtalie Lemon said they saw that the site was an eyesore and needed to do something about it as a matter of urgency to avoid escalating the cholera outbreak.
“Since we work in liaison with farmers on the mountain to reafforest the bare mountain, it was a pleasure to us when they agreed to get involved hands-on,” he said.
“We intend to carry on with this campaign as regularly as possible so that the community members can resuscitate the Clean-up Day campaign which President Chakwera launched.
“We need more participation which in turn will teach the community members to prudently manage their waste to avoid piling up trash in open spaces.”
When launching the National Clean-up Day — joined by the First Lady, Madame Monica Chakwera; the Vice-President, Saulos Chilima; former British High Commissioner to Malawi, David Beer and other high profile dignitaries, Chakwera enjoyed irresistible camaraderie as demonstrated that it is the responsibility of every citizenry to keep Malawi environment waste-free and clean all the time.
He had said the clean-up day will be celebrated on the second Friday of every month and urged every Malawian to commit themselves to clean up their surroundings.
He said there is need for mindset change, adding that people do not care for their surroundings by disposing off their waste within their neighbourhoods.
He further said the carelessly discarded waste creates bad odour in neighbourhoods as well as posing potential risk to public health, while urging the citizenry that “every person should take responsibility of their actions. Own your actions — for your own sake and the people around you.”
He said the responsibility of a clean city and a clean environment should not be left to the City Council only because that mindset will never correct the unethical habit where people dump their waste everywhere expecting the City Council to clean up after them.
When contacted last week, Blantyre City Council’s Director of Health, Dr. Kanjunjunju said they were failing to dispose garbage due to scarcity of fuel for their vehicles to reach their dumpsite.
“Our vehicles were unable to reach some places for garbage disposal,” he said, while acknowledging that they were aware of the issue of waste disposal carelessness in Malabada and that they are equally concerned of the increase of cholera cases and urged people not to resort to openly dispose waste in open places.
Established in 2021 under the theme: ‘Cleaning and Greening’, the Community Impact Group of 14-plus volunteers, comprises youths who are employed while others are in school — doing all this in their free time and in shifts.
They have combined waste management and green initiative by planting trees on the mountain — once famous for a rich cover of trees but now completely laid bare.
All this initiative is purely voluntary working as the group members contribute funds from their pockets every month to financially sustain the project and they appeals for support, both financial, equipment and costs of collection of waste.
After their training by the Waste Advisors, they were provided with the starter pack materials but they are still lacking in finances to procure protective materials such as face masks, work suits, gloves, watering cans and work suits.
The funds they raise from group contributions cater for transportation of trash from the households and marketplace but it is not sustainable since just a few of them are employed and the rest are school students.
“It is our wish to increase collection of more trash but finances hinder our appetite in waste management,” director Gift Landani said.
Landani said they approached stakeholders, and still do, but the response has been lukewarm apart from the positive minds of households who are sorting out their waste.
As on November 2, Blantyre alone registered 656 cases accompanied by 26 deaths while on Sunday, November 20 the figure was at 686 with 26 deaths.
Nationally, reported cases of cholera, as reported by the Ministry of Health, a total of 110 new cases were recorded on November 2 accompanied by two related deaths with 198 being admitted in treatment units.
Come Sunday, November 20, there were 117 new cases recorded accompanied by seven deaths with 205 admitted.
Since the onset of the outbreak in March in Machinga District, the cumulative confirmed cases is at 8,977; 274 deaths with all 29 districts affected while 8,498 people have since recovered from the deadly disease.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :