Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Huye residents champion clean, safe environment


A resident makes use of a roadside trashbin near Kuri Arreté trading centre.
IN THE past, residents and traders of Kinazi trading centre, Huye District, littered the area with plastic bags, water bottles, food wastes and scraps of papers. But, today it is difficult to find trash strewn all over. 

“There was all kind of rubbish across this centre and all over the street,” recalls Jean Claude Nzabandora, an area resident. “But, that has gone with time and the place is now very clean”.

The new face is attributed to better  management of waste and the involvement of the local population in the initiative to keep the district clean.

Last December, local authorities launched an initiative which sought to improve the state of hygiene and environmental protection throughout the sector.

The authorities wanted to encourage local residents to adopt best practices and awaken their sense of responsibilities towards protecting the environment, according to Vital Migabo, Kinazi Sector Executive Secretary.

After consultations and discussions with residents, it was decided that roadside trash-bins be introduced for proper waste disposal.

“But the task was so challenging because we wanted residents to own up the initiative for it to be successful,” Migabo notes.

So, local authorities asked families living by the road to “make a small sacrifice and buy at least one plastic bucket per family” which were then turned into dustbins.

The containers were pierced to let rainwater flow down and then hanged on roadside trees where they still line the Huye-Kigali Highway on a distance of eight kilometres.

“We did not meet any opposition because residents welcomed the move as they realised it would benefit them,” Migabo assures.

“Our overall target is to promote hygiene within the local communities while at the same time contribute to safeguarding our environment,” the official tells The New Times.

“We are very proud that our population did indeed support us in this venture. Apart from their contribution through purchasing the buckets turned dustbins, they are also the ones who empty them whenever there is need”.

Mindset change

“We are also proud that other neighbouring sectors have started to emulate our initiative,” Migabo adds, as he appeals to residents to keep championing for a ‘clean and safe environment’.

But local officials and residents say the major result of the initiative has been the awareness of how litter poses serious health and environmental threats to the community.

“It is very rare to find someone throwing trash on the roadside,” Migabo proudly says. 

Marie Lucie Uwera, a teacher at a local Nine-Year Basic Education School, told this paper that the campaign has won the hearts of residents of all ages.

“Even children have understood that it is bad to throw trash anywhere,” the educator says.  “Sometimes they [children] even voluntarily collect flying papers and take them to the trash bins.”

Uwera believes that this innitiative will help the children grow with a sense of responsibility and the understanding that wastes should not be disposed off anywhere.

But, while Kinazi residents continue to work towards a clean environment, they still face litter. The residents mainly blame bus passengers whom they accuse of continuously throwing food wastes, papers and plastic bags everywhere.

But local authorities say they are working towards addressing that issue as well. 

According to Migabo, local leaders and security forces are working together and mulling over the possibility of establishing the ‘Guardians of Hygiene’ or ‘Abarinzi b’Isuku’– people who will be reporting  any vehicle with passengers who carelessly drop rubbish on the road.

“They [Guardians of Hygiene] should report the vehicle to the Traffic Police and the later will ensure that the bus is intercepted and asked to return back to clean where they have messed up,” Migabo notes, emphasising, however, that the proposal is still being discussed.

“As people know that they cannot throw rubbish on the streets in Kigali, we want also them to know that they cannot do that in this area,” he states.

Experts have warned that the absence of proper waste management practices and facilities leads to environmental degradation and poses serious threats to people’s health. 

Wastes contaminate surface and ground water, soil, and air which causes problems for humans, other species, and ecosystems they argue.


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