AU’s Business Academy hosts Manicaland Solid Waste Management Conference
13 November 2018
Africa University’s Business Academy in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) hosted a Solid Waste Management Conference on the 13th of November 2018 at the Main Campus in Mutare. The objective of the conference was to bring together stakeholders from various cross –sections of the Manicaland community from local government, councils, other institutions of higher learning, students, activists and civic societies to openly and honestly discuss the current state of the environment in the province, its impact on the local economy and to find sustainable solutions to address the problem.
The handling and management of waste in Zimbabwe has emerged to be one of the biggest challenges facing the nation where the rate of generation of waste has far outgrown the country’s capacity to adequately collect, recycle and store it as is the case in many countries in both the developed and developing world. The main drivers of the problem stem from insufficient financial resources due to economic constraints to provide consistent collection of waste, unenforced environmental control systems, open burning of waste by the population and indiscriminate illegal dumping and littering by the general public.
The Africa University Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa officially opened the conference thanking EMA for its contribution and partnership to the university in hosting the event emphasizing that there is a need for the Government of Zimbabwe to leverage the potential that lies within institutions of higher learning to drive research and development in the area of waste management.
He went on to say,
“Efficient and effective services must be delivered to the people that provides clean cities and environments. Every one of us has a role to play from the rate payer to the Councils. Our approach to waste management must be scientific, take advantage of technological advances that exist and most importantly it must be humane and just, understanding that the environment belongs to, and should be enjoyed by all. Africa University has to date signed MOU’s with Mutare, Rusape and Chipinge local authorities and I would like to encourage us to focus on implementing the critical aspects of our respective agreements especially as they relate to service delivery.”
Addressing corporations, civil servants and those elected to serve the nation, Prof Furusa added,
“The politics of hard work, integrity and honesty must supersede all else.”
The Minister of State for the Province of Manicaland Honourable Senator Dr. Ellen Gwaradzimba who was also the guest of honour at the conference, lamented the deterioration of the environment in the province saying,
“Cry my beloved country Zimbabwe, cry my beloved continent of Africa. We have not prioritized the state of our environment. It is high time we sat down and planned our course of action to deal with this problem. Let us teach our students to get their hands dirty to solve these problems. The Government has declared the 14th of November 2018 a day for national clean up. Every town, city, province and citizen of Zimbabwe must be involved.”
Mrs Zanele Furusa a prominent environmental activist in the Manicaland region who has been recognized by EMA for her passion and zeal with an appointment as an honorary EMA officer made a presentation at the conference that detailed the extent to which the environment is being damaged and made a call for all stakeholders to take the issue seriously as the effects will be felt for generations to come.
In an interview on the side lines of the conference she said,
“We say that Zimbabwe is open for business and that we want to achieve middle income status by 2023 but how can we achieve this if our environment is in disarray and a serious health concern? Manicaland is a tourist hub and yet its beauty is being diminished. Imagine the revenue we lose because of the lack of concern for our environment! I love the quote by Wangaari Maathai where she stresses that the economy and the environment are different sides to the same coin. We cannot prioritize one over the other as we rely on those same environmental resources for our development.”
She went on to state that greed is a key driver in environmental degradation where profits override environmental rehabilitation efforts and the enforcement of laws intended to protect the environment in many countries across the world. Providing hope and prospects of a way forward, Mrs Furusa said,
“It really starts with each of us and I engage my community constantly to get them to care about the illegal dumping that is taking place and take responsibility for cleaning their own surroundings and in making sure that it stays clean. Constant awareness is the key and we must collaborate across sectors, cities, countries and organizations to find solutions together.”
The conference will develop recommendations that will be documented and used to guide the provincial and national discussion on how to best engage stakeholders at all levels on how to protect the environment and improve the management of solid waste.
In 2016, the worlds’ cities generated 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste, amounting to a footprint of 0.74 kilograms per person per day. With rapid population growth and urbanization, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050. In low-income countries, over 90% of waste is often disposed in unregulated dumps or openly burned. These practices create serious health, safety, and environmental consequences. Poorly managed waste serves as a breeding ground for disease vectors and contributes to global climate change through methane generation (Source: World Bank.org).
The Africa University Business Academy is a community of scholars dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge about business, development and policy issues. Its vision is to become a world- class strategic business unit the provides a link between the needs of big business and the expertise available within the world of academia. The Solid Waste Environmental Management Conference is one of the many large scale conferences that have been planned to run throughout the year to facilitate its vision.