Uniting around hygiene issue
AS WE move towards sustainable environment management and waste disposal systems, President Emmerson MnangagwahasdeclaredthefirstFriday of each month “National Environment Cleaning Day”.
From now on, all Zimbabweans are asked to dedicate just two hours of their precious time to clean their environs on this day.
Itmighthavetakenalittlenudgefrom the First Citizen of this country, but the motivationtokeeptheenvironmentclean shouldactuallycomefromeveryindividual. Keeping the environment clean and hygienic is everyone’s responsibility. It is a matter of attitude and responsibility.
Thetheme“Zerotolerancetolitter:My environment, my pride” aptly captures the spirit that should drive this noble initiative.Inasmuchasitisaboutourcollective environment, all the benefits will be felt at an individual level by every citizen.
After all, cleanliness is near to godliness. Firstly, maintaining cleanliness at an individual level will lead us towards becomingabettersocietyfromthesimple factoffeelinggoodaboutwhereonelives.
Withdiarrhoealdiseasessuchascholeraandtyphoidcontinuingtoravagethe nation,theNationalEnvironmentCleaning Day was long overdue.
Harare’s high-density suburbs have been the epicentre of the recent cholera outbreak.
Contaminated underground water, accessed through boreholes dotted around the suburbs, was identified as the cause. Urban centres across Zimbabwe generate about 165 million tonnes of wasteeveryyear,thebulkofwhichendsup inopenillegaldumpsites,urbanstreams and wetlands.
Becauseourlocalauthoritieshaveseriouschallengesindeliveringpotablewater, that dirt ends up in our taps.
Inessence,wearechokingonourown dirt, our own irresponsibility and our own slovenliness!
Ironically, there is immense business and energy potential in waste and environmental management even as we cry abouteconomichardships,lackofaccess toelectricity,andlivingindirtytownsand cities.
Zimbabwe is sitting on gold and we need to be innovative and roll-out ways of extracting value from waste.
Soundmanagementofchemicalwaste, solidwasteaswellaselectronicandplastic wasteneedstobeputinplacefortheprotectionofhumanhealth,floraandfauna.
While we are at it, another pressing issue that needs to be urgently dealt with is Zimbabwe’s love for plastic materials, which are the world’s biggest pollutants.
Wholesalers and retailers need to follow international trends and start using biodegradable paper for packaging, which has a lower carbon impact and has improved recyclability.
Largelyduetoplasticpollution,thecities’blockeddrainagesystemsarenowan albatross around our necks.
Ordinarily, rain water is supposed to come and wash the cities clean.
However, as it stands most cities no longer have any drainage systems to talk aboutasgarbagehasbeenallowedtocollect in the drains beneath our streets.
Besides being aesthetically unpleasant, the resultant swampy pools are also breeding grounds for various diseases, including cholera and malaria.
These are the pressures that make improved public sanitation urgent.
All of this obviously, has a bearing on our health delivery system, which is already choking from underfunding.
Cleaning up the environment will as a happy consequence trim the country’s health bill, with funds being diverted towards investment.
JoininghandstocleanZimbabweisnot solely about the physical environment, it has got great chances of yielding significant psychological and social effects.
This is particularly important in the Second Republic as we find each other and build the Zimbabwe that we want.
Being a politically polarised nation, ours has not been an easy journey, especially after lives were lost in the post-election violence that broke out as the opposition demanded that their preferred candidate be declared the winner of the Presidential poll.
There is an urgent need to cement the cracks before they become wider. The National Environment Cleaning Day gives us that opportunity.
The concept is rooted in nationhood; with the same effect as the national flag or national anthem in rallying everyone around a common cause.
Itallowspeoplefromallwalksoflifeto takeofftheirpoliticalandwhateverother straitjacketsandputononerobe,therobe that defines us all Zimbabweans.
A clean Zimbabwe, achieved through working together in our communities, will build national pride and oneness of purpose.Evenbetter,increasedattention to the need for a clean physical environment should spur people to want to also live in a clean economic environment.
Thereisaclosecorrelationbetweenpersonal cleanliness and personal morality.
Let us wash away all dirt and grime and cleanse our economy of corruption.
Foryearsnow,Rwanda’sPresidentPaul Kagame has been running a clean-up campaign in that country, and the initiative has proved to be quite popular in a country that as recently as 1994 was the scene of a horrible genocide.
And it is also quite interesting that RwandaisrankedamongstAfrica’sleast corrupt nations.
A person who loves his or her country enoughtokeepitcleanwillloveitenough to work hard and work honestly.