Maybe if Zimbabwe had more bins, there would not be as much litter as there currently is.
Report by Chipo Masara
In trying to establish why Zimbabwe, and especially Harare — which used to be known as the Sunshine City — has gone off from being the pride of the whole of southern Africa to being a litter hub, the lack of sufficient bins has always been cited among the chief causes.
Lack of national pride, non-collection of refuse by local authorities and a wrong mindset towards the habit of littering, were identified to be the other elements at the core of the waste management crisis the country is currently facing.
In the Harare’s central business district (CBD), there is an accumulation of very large amounts of litter. Even the First Street area, which not so long ago was a very clean area, is now very filthy.
Results of a recent survey by Proudly Zimbabwean, a local non-profit making non-governmental organisation, which is running a project called BIN-it Zimbabwe, confirmed that lack of sufficient bins was one of the factors that have contributed towards the country’s current lacklustre state.
Some eight volunteers working with Proudly Zimbabwean recently converged under the auspices of the BIN-it project, to conduct an audit of the Harare CBD litter infrastructure.
Public not using available bins
It was observed that there are some bins that are not being used. What it means is that there are some Zimbabweans that simply prefer to throw litter on the ground, regardless of whether there are bins around or not.
This reminds me of a council cleaner I met cleaning the Africa Unity Square. She told me how in spite of the availability of bins at every corner in the park, people would still come in, eat their food and throw their food wrappings on the ground.
In interviews with some people in Harare sometime early this year, I was left in shock as a number of them suggested that if they did not litter, then the council cleaners would be out of jobs.
Yes, there are still people out there that think like that!
So while the lack of bins is a major problem, it is definitely not the only factor contributing towards littering.
Eradicating litter feasible
The survey conducted by BIN-it Zimbabwe was, among other things, meant to establish the number of bins in the Harare CBD and their positioning, in a bid to come up with an Action Plan.
It was the first exercise under the project and there are plans to carry out similar surveys in all of the country’s major cities.
According to results of the audit, which BIN-it Zimbabwe posted on their Facebook page, Harare CBD has approximately 475 pole bins, with 30% of them being broken down.
A total of 45 pot bins with lids on were recorded but these were rarely used by the public. Although a total of 100 concrete bins were recorded in Harare CBD, most of these were evidently not functional.
Approximately 80 drum bins were recorded, the majority being scattered in bus terminus areas.
Of the total number of bins, 90% of them were observed to be covering less than 10 kilometres of the total Harare CBD, an area which covers a total of 35 kilometres.
BIN-it Zimbabwe was also able to establish that the majority of the bins in the CBD are located in less busy areas while litter-infested spots, like Copacabana, have considerably fewer bins.
Although we would have to wait for the surveys to be conducted countrywide, the litter that now engulfs most cities and towns indicates that litter is now a national problem.
In the BIN-it Zimbabwe Plan of Action, eradicating litter in Zimbabwe is a feat they feel is achievable, everything being in place.
The project is calling on corporates to adopt sections of the streets, mostly through funding bins, which would be branded with company logos.
Corporates providing company branded bins have been used the world over as a successful marketing tool.
BIN-it Zimbabwe feels having a bin every 100 metres would be the ideal situation.
Waiting for the local authorities to take care of waste management in the country has not been known to yield any significant results.
The Harare City Council, for instance, had to announce that “due to lack of funds”, it could not take care of many things it was expected to and extended an invitation to everyone to do their part.
It is now time the corporate world heeded the call and gave back to the country, by littering Zimbabwe with bins.