Malawi faces significant problems in dealing with increased tons of solid and plastic wastes disposal. The practice of producing thin plastics, dumping wastes on streets, markets, roads, rivers and unapproved site is rapidly increasing coupled with negative attitude of the citizens, vandalism of constructed bins, lack of skip bins and inadequate awareness on the same. Outbreak of diseases, water pollution and blockage of drainage are the effects of the accumulation of thin plastic and solid wastes.
The rate of generation of thin plastic and solid waste in Mzuzu city does not match with the rate of evacuation. Mzuzu city generates approximately above 60 tons of waste per day (Mzuzu City Council, 2021). Alarmingly, current waste collection services in Mzuzu city can only handle a small percentage as a result of inadequate of refuse collection vehicles and waste management infrastructures. Several locations in Mzuzu city are at risk of air and water borne diseases due to uncollected heap of waste as a result of frequent breakdown of refuse collection vehicles and lack of skip bins and these problems have led Mzuzu city council to be collecting waste in the Central Business District (CBD) while leaving out other locations.
Additionally, thin plastic are not allowed in Malawi. Despite the ban, thin plastic and bottles are common and widely used in Malawi including Mzuzu city. Thin plastic, solid waste is everywhere within the cities, trading centres, towns, roads and communities and this pose a threat to the environment and it is health hazardous to the current and future generation. In response to the challenges cited, Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM), Mzuzu City Council, Luke International, SPRODETA and other stakeholders came together to support the clean-up campaign in Mzuzu city to discourage the city dwellers from using thin plastics and promote awareness on proper disposal of waste and collection of the heaped waste within the Mzuzu city.
Activities during the event involved: collection of thin plastics, collection of heaped waste within the city and dissemination of information to people on proper disposal of waste.
During the campaign, WESM Coordinator for Mzuzu Branch, George Malembo emphasised that thin plastic are not allowed in Malawi because there is no mechanisms to recycle the plastic papers which end up in the landfills. ‘’Despite the ban, thin plastic are still being used,’’ George said. He pleaded with the people in Mzuzu to avoid use of thin plastic rather use cloth bags and avoid unnecessary disposal of wastes. Additionally, he highlighted that the aim of the campaign is to protect the future generation and make Mzuzu clean city.
Speaking on behalf of the Country Representative of Luke International, Michelle Cement highlighted that Luke International has been working in water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) since 2016 in lakeshore areas of Nkhatabay to promote use of clean water and toilets and avoid open defecation. ‘Since the COVID-19 pandemic Luke International has been conducting awareness campaigns to Mzimba South and North and Nkhatabay to promote hygienic living conditions’, in addition, she said that last year Luke International through community development department felt it appropriate to focus on Mzuzu city and established partnership with Mzuzu city council to advocate for a clean green environment in Mzuzu city.
Mayor’s representative, councillor Ronny Mwenitete highlighted that accumulation of wastes is a big problem in Mzuzu city due to in adequate of refuse collection vehicles and frequent breakdown of refuse collection vehicles. ‘Mzuzu city council aims at frequent removal of waste at the allocated collection point to final disposal site’, Ronny said. To show commitment in dealing with waste management, the Mzuzu city council has called on stakeholders to help it raise Mk 200 Million which will be used for the purchase of waste management infrastructures and refuse collection vehicles. To achieve this, Mzuzu city council has set up a committee which will lead in the fundraising drive between April and September 2022. Lastly, Mayor’s representative commended Luke International and all stakeholders for the support towards the clean-up campaign.
The clean-up campaign was successful and managed to clear 5 sites accumulated with thin plastics and solid wastes that have been idle for a period over 4 weeks within Mataifa, PEP shop, opposite main market, chiwanja and vigwagwa. For Mzuzu city to be clean, there is need for frequent collection of the accumulated waste and adequate skip bins in allocated sites. Additionally, there is need to continue awareness on waste management to change people’s mind set, to be aware that it is everybody’s responsibility to manage waste within our sorroundings and not just the Mzuzu city council.