Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The business of being wasteful

By: Molly Nocheck
In Lusaka, Zambia

Zambia may be a unique and picturesque place, but the beauty of the land is oftentimes hindered by an endless amount of trash that litters roadways, villages and markets. Though the abundance of trash is apparent, there seem to not be an effective government waste management system in place. In fact, I found it difficult to find trash reciprocals throughout Lusaka and the ones I did manage to find were usually overflown with litter. The biggest wake up call regarding litter that I experienced was seeing a pig eating trash at the busy Soweto Market.
The amount trash may have shocked me but it certainly did not surprise me.

In Zambia, plastic bags are given for every purchase. For instance, if I ordered food at a take out or fast food restaurant, I would be given a bag for my food and a separate bag for my drink. It is usually difficult to find a place to dispose of trash, even at developed shopping centers like Manda Hill.

Waste management systems?

After observing locals, I learned that trash is simply left wherever and will eventually be picked up. Unfortunately, a trash pick up system is not available to everyone in Zambia. The 2004 National Solid Waste Management Strategy for Zambia says,

“Waste components are usually mixed and dumped in places that are not designated for disposal. Much of this type of waste is generated from residential areas and at the moment less than 10% on average of residential areas in the country are serviced as regards waste management.”

This depressing statistic signals a need for change in Zambia's waste management mentality. Not only does an effective waste management system need to be put into place, but also a complete overhaul of the attitudes toward litter control. There needs to be more of an effort put into reducing, reusing, and recycling. The availability of rubbish bins could certainly be improved, as could the amount of bags being used.

A local perspective

The need of a waste management overhaul is emphasized in a recent article in the Times of Zambia which profiles residents' apprehensions about the current trash situation.. The article explains that the lack of an official waste management system leads to many residents to utilize private waste collectors. According to a Times of Zambia report by Lillian Banda, the use of illegal trash collectors is a potential threat to the environment, as trash is not being properly disposed of. Taking control of the waste in Zambia would lead to a healthier environmental future.

Molly Nocheck is one of 18 students from Ohio University who studied abroad in Zambia over winter intercession through the Institute for International Journalism.

She is a junior broadcast journalism major.

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