DEDZA, Malawi, April 18, 2021 (AEJ) - Dedza District Council casual approach has irked activists who have faulted it for failing to curb wanton waste disposal within a site of ecosystem importance to sustain livelihoods.
The site, Dedza mountain is located to the northern part of the town. The landscape is a mixture of grassland with granite outcrops, natural woodland and commercial pine plantations and some bamboo forest. It is one of the tourist attractions sites with a height of over 2,198m within a walkable distance from the town.
In October last year, Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo teamed up with hundreds of residents in a clean-up exercise that threatened aesthetic beauty of the reserve. The clean-up was championed by Chifuno Changa Green Initiative, a local based community organization. The exercise was conducted following concerns over lack of proper waste management handling within the ecosystem.
However, barely six months after the initial clean-up patronized by the Minister, waste continue to be disposed willy-nilly within the Mountain peripheral.
A recent visit by AEJ online has revealed that plastic papers, metal objects and glasses are being dumped unsegregated.
Speaking in an interview, Chifuno Stevens, Founder of Chifuno Changa Green Initiative expressed worry and shook over the development saying it reverses the gains made to clean the Mountain.
"Our concern is that we continue to disregard the importance of environmental conservation. More importantly, it is so imperative as residents to adhere to proper waste management practices.
These issues affect us all directly or indirectly – issues such as deforestation, health related risks and hazards and also pollution that is being caused," Stevens explained in an interview.
She disclosed that lack of a proper dumping site, is a major reason why waste management is still a problem.
"One of the factors that also heavily affect Dedza is that the council does not have a well designated site for waste disposal. There was a landfill created at the foot of Dedza mountain but that was meant to be a temporary measure.” Stevens, a passionate environment advocate said.
After realizing that improper dumping was continuing, was organized residents close to where the waste is dumped. We together voiced our concerns to the council, but it seems that there is nothing making sense," she lamented over the casual approach by the council.
When asked for his reaction Environmental activist Mathews Malata said, "It's not surprising to hear of continued disposal of waste, since councils doesn’t have proper approaches to waste management." Malata added that lack of sustainable ways of managing waste is fuelling the vice across the country.
"This is a human rights issue and people refuse to take responsibility over this which is very sad. We feel people have been let down by the council. We feel that the councils can do better and this must be done in line with the aspirations of the new administration. The clean-up campaign is about reforms in waste management," a concerned Malata said.
On his part Maloto Chimkombero, Save the Future Foundation Founder urged Ministry of Local Government to expedite efforts in the management of waste in the country.
"What we are seeing in Dedza is not new, we have had such cases in other places including cities. I believe that if the local government ministry comes in to ensure that every district has a proper dumping site these issues can be history. Councils also need to ensure that by laws on waste management are set and adhered to," Chimkombero offered suggestions.
Bright Mikwamba, Dedza District Environmental Officer blamed some residents for dumping waste at a wrong site.
"We sensitized communities about a new place near the mountain where they were supposed to dump their wastes. However, they continue to dump waste close to the mountain, defying our directive," Mikwamba said.
MIkwamba disclosed that council is committed to ensuring that sanitation is promoted, "We will meet concerned stakeholders on the matter to map the way forward. We will engage chiefs around the area to ensure that perpetuators of this malpractice are taken to book for action," he warned.
Additional reporting by Charles Mkoka in Lilongwe