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ZRBF Sizimele urges adoption of green solutions in marketplaces

Courtesy of ZRBF Sizimele

solutions in food and agricultural markets. ZRBF has become a proponent for reducing, re-using and recycling waste products. The inappropriate waste management practices in marketplaces have had negative environmental consequences and pose as a potential health hazard for vendors, traders and customers occupying and operating in the spaces.

A study carried out by the Institute of Environmental Studies at the UZ in 2011 estimated that Zimbabwe generates 1.65 million tonnes of waste, of which 18% is plastic (297 000 tonnes). Access to green solutions improves the working environment for traders and more importantly, enhances the safety and confidence of buyers in informal markets. Jeremiah Mushosho, a Programme Analyst in Climate Change, Environment and Energy at United Nations Development Program (UNDP) emphasized the need to include innovative waste-to-energy approaches as a response to addressing waste management. He mentioned capitalizing on solar energy as a primary power source to vendors so that they can charge their phones and investing in the creation of green spaces in markets.

“The solar power can be harnessed for food preservation, processing and cold chain maintenance. Access to clean water and safe waste management options improve general market hygiene,” added Mushosho.

“Green solutions in marketplaces focus on doing business in environmentally sustainable ways.  Therefore, traders need ways of sustainably harnessing and managing green energy, water, sanitation and health facilities as well as managing waste in marketplaces,” said Shadreck Zhou, a Markets Specialist while speaking to the Special Edition Vendors Voice.

Intense promotion of household recycling and separation of litter in household backyards and composting of organic manure for urban agriculture are some of the green-smart strategies that can be implored to manage waste at a small scale. This is fertile ground that is promoting the green solutions approach. Tonderai Shoko, an award-winning Environmentalist and social entrepreneur, who founded and is running the Keep Bulawayo Clean campaign commended local initiatives being done by residents to keep the city clean.

“There are so many diverse ideas coming in from the community, ideas that are capitalizing on waste and creating employment for the youths,” Shoko said. “This is also a great time to invest in organic solutions by having backyard composts of organic manure.”

Zimbabwe produces an average of 2.5 million tonnes of solid waste every year, according to a 2010 assessment. The same assessment illustrates that at the current rate, the population will generate more than 5 million tons of waste by 2030. It is against this backdrop that the Sizimele team has incorporated a Climate Smart Technologies component in their programming.

The Climate Smart and Innovations Specialist at DanChurch Aid, Garnet Shamu, shared the green solutions approach that is centred around waste to energy technologies. The technology involves collection of solid waste residue from rejects in the markets, breading the Black Soldier Fly and harvesting the pupa which is sun dried and mixed with grains. This highly protein supplement mix is sold as poultry feed. Residue from the composts is converted into biomass which produces biogas that will be a renewable source of lighting for poultry farmers.

“This is a new approach that we are attempting that has strong resilience potential. On a large scale the renewable energy can even be used for household lighting, powering streetlights and irrigation. This is ultimately where we envisage ourselves,” Shamu explained.

It is paramount to invest in sustainable green-solution plans to harvest solid waste materials from busy places such as fresh produce vending markets like Shasha and Sekusile markets among others within the city. These will improve the general hygiene of the markets particularly amid the COVID-19 era.

Innovative waste-to-energy technology is heralded as a sustainable and necessary solution to the increase in waste due to rapid urbanization and adequate waste disposal facilities are crucial, not only for public health but also for preserving the natural environment.

Jointly, local initiatives have taken a lead in designing campaigns that are recycling these plastics into various products such as flowerpots, mats, wine cases and bags. Individuals running successful campaigns have identified the worth in waste and are creating employment opportunities for themselves while keeping the stubborn waste off the streets of Bulawayo.

Mduduzi Moyo is a passionate entrepreneur who is into recycling. He has been working with Lobengula out-of-school and in-school youths in his initiative. They collect plastic papers and empty plastic bottles from markets, shops, bottle stores and the streets. These are crafted into flowerpots, sculptures, and door mats.

“There is a huge gap around recycling hence we need to utilize every opportunity while ensuring we are keeping a clean and smart environment around us. This will also ensure we live in a healthy environment,” Moyo shared.

Moyo expressed his concerns over stiff competition and how he is capitalizing over this by using locally available material. “I am using material that I can harness locally and converting into designs that are in demand.” He added that the waste was polluting the environment, and this was his way of playing a role in cleaning it. ZRBF Sizimele is currently mobilizing resources to support the City of Bulawayo and other local authorities in implementing their green solution plans. If this succeeds, this will go a long way in enhancing the operations of informal traders in Bulawayo’s marketplaces. 

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