I am responsible for all the solid waste management activities in the city of Bulawayo. This means that I provide strategic plans to make sure that the streets, public areas and green zones in the city are clean. The city council cannot successfully manage to keep the city clean on its own, for that matter is it important that we seek ways in which the citizens of Bulawayo can participate in the cleaning process. This would not only benefit the city but also the residents of a clean city is a healthy one.
Experience in the Netherlands
The training organised by The Hague Academy had participants from every continent which was a deeply enriching experience. The course is enlightening and very practical and the experts who were brought in were knowledgeable and ensured us from take-home points. My hosts during my internship were great and really made me feel like I was at home. They organised a programme that was tailor-made to my interests in citizen participation and waste management. Zwolle opened my eyes in terms of solutions: they use a lot of low-cost solutions which challenged me to think deeper about the problems that I am facing in the city of Bulawayo. For example, the municipality of Zwolle reduced the number of bins in the area and even managed to reduce the amount of lit at the same time. This went against my conventional thinking but I realised that it requires a change in the attitude of the citizens and it is not necessary to increase the number of bins to cope with trash.
Back Home Action Plan
‘’Together for a Cleaner Bulawayo’’ is a project that aims to involve the citizens in solid waste management. It seeks to increase the residents participation in the planning and implementation of waste reduction; recycling strategies; waste collection; littering and cleaning illegal dumping spots. Bulawayo used to be known as the cleanest city in Zimbabwe, with my plan I hope that we will be the cleanest city again. The city of Bulawayo has already proposed some attempts to involve the citizens more, but unfortunately, these attempts were not successful. The people in Bulawayo are predominantly of the opinion that since they pay taxes, they are not inclined to help in keeping the city clean.
The municipality of Zwolle showed me that solutions to the waste management problems do not need to be costly. The Dutch even use sheep to gaze at overgrown areas instead of using mechanical tools. If you can keep these overgrown areas maintained, people will be less tempted to use these spots to illegally dump the trash. I also learned that I should not focus too much on enforcing people to clean up, I should shift my focus to educating them. Teach them how to properly deal with the trash and show them why it is important that we do this. Besides this, Zwolle made me believe that not only adults matter, but children are also maybe even more important. If we teach our children from a young age how to deal with trash they will continue this throughout their lives and even educate their parents in the process.