Unit­ing around hy­giene is­sue

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - COMMENT -

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.

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