Waste needs to be tackled in Malawi as the implications will take drastic measures on the environment and the people who depend on it. The country could benefit with environmental education, the culture of sharing knowledge and joining of initiatives for people of all levels. Clear Lilongwe capital, city centre of office paper waste and make recycled paper to ensure all students have paper used for school books in the more economically deprived local areas is just one of many initiatives…
I have been in Malawi for 3 years. In this time there have been many ups and downs, mainly cultural differences but I have realised my strengths. I can meet people, talk and recognize their potential. I often train and in doing so learn to trust and allow people to take responsibility. This is the only way to run projects and have positive sustainable futures so people themselves are completely interactive rather than your passion driving everyone.
As an architect and environmentalist my personal development was also giving much attention to waste in Malawi.
The environment and other factors influencing this need to be looked after otherwise there will be drastic changes that will affect the lives of many people. Environmental degradation is happening every day, everywhere in Malawi. Malawi had a population of 16.36 million in 2013 which has now increased to 17.47 million in 2016 at a growth rate of 3% compared to 2015. http://countrymeters.info/en/Malawi
82% of people in Malawi live in rural areas. These are places that lack electricity and people must depend on natural resources… for cooking, washing and building houses. 4 tons of timber is used to burn bricks to build 1 house.
Population growth is giving lots of pressure of the environment and natural resources which is the backbone of sustainable living. Care for the environment and people need to be our main responsibility. As we are not inheriting the land from our fore fathers but we are borrowing from our own children.
The climate is already changing but with effort and integration of environmental programs throughout Malawi we can change the shape of Malawi for the better. ICC Malawi has a focus to do just that.
Looking into the subject I realised the only way to solve the problem was to start initiatives to teach people the uses and benefits of waste. I helped to start up a charity called International Coastal and Cleanup Malawi, ICC Malawi. Our aim is to create healthy environments through the removal of millions of tons of waste. These materials can then transfer through knowledge and skills into reusable beneficial well designed items with an entrepreneurship mind.
As I found passion and ideas I worked hard and attracted lots of likeminded people. It is not easy to find people with passion but when key people come into play and work with you without funding for many hours you know. We had professional emails and phone calls from WWF to ensure funding was coming.
We engaged communities, individuals, government and NGO's:
- with an ICCM introductory talk at WESM (Wildlife Environmental Society of Malawi) talking about the holistic approach needed for everyone to have an active role in managing their waste
- made animations about the problems and solutions of waste shared this animation with everyone
- made an environmental radio program on Beyond FM, a local radio station of the capital, Lilongwe
- made a great network and contacts list, many people wanted to partner with us after our successful talk
- engaged with school teachers to make school programs of environment, nutrition and waste (proposal attached)
- made DIY posters of how to make devices out of waste, including solar tubes to heat water made out of tin cans (sheet attached)
- writing proposals including school programs, lilongwe river catchment cleanup, waste management events, city centre cleanup. giving all paper to rural schools to make recycled paper
- Engaged and joined with other waste management events
All cleanups include environmental education and sensitization, clean-up activities with music or some sort of entertainment to attract people to join, then designing and making workshops to ensure people see the value of waste.
We have secured meetings with people from South Africa to talk about the actions needed to clean Lilongwe River catchment. This contact was made from going and talking at the Malawi African Forum for agriculture advisory services (MaFaas) Extension week in Lilongwe. Everything was all in place, but there was no money. As the funding was delayed by 3 months I became suspicious. In the UK I called WWF who had no recollection of who we were, and then a work laptop was stolen. One of our team members had faked emails, phone calls and wasted his time, energy, and our money to misinform the team.
When such a situation occurs I like to think of the positives and everything that has come from this. In the last 3 months ICC Malawi has found many passionate interested people. Keen environmentalists, permaculture experts, a great accountant, and animation I.T. guy and many volunteers including the chief of area 3, Lilongwe, influential characters needed!
I am now even more determined to get this project up and running on the ground, having the structure and work already in place. Many lessons have been learnt. We are renaming our charity International Conservation and Cleanup Malawi to ensure we have a an holistic approach including environmental education, health, agriculture, food and nutrition, innovations for waste, climate change, resource utilization and water & land management. The key is environmental education in both urban and rural areas through awareness, mobilization and creative innovation in the fight against negative impact of waste on the environments. This focusses on the subjects of the key people who have worked for many months with no money.
We need a new registration, a kick start with some salaries and office equipment to get things moving.