Africa University's Business Academy in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) hosted a Solid Waste Management Conference last year November at the Main Campus in Mutare. The objective of the conference was to bring together stakeholders from various cross –sections of the Manicaland community to openly and honestly discuss the current state of the environment in the province, its impact on the local economy and to find sustainable solutions to address the problem.
The handling and management of waste in Zimbabwe has emerged to be one of the biggest challenges facing the nation where the rate of generation of waste has far outgrown the country's capacity to adequately collect, recycle and store it as is the case in many countries in both the developed and developing world.
The Africa University Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa officially opened the conference thanking EMA for its contribution and partnership to the university in hosting the event emphasizing that there is a need for the Government of Zimbabwe to leverage the potential that lies within institutions of higher learning to drive research and development in the area of waste management.
He went on to say, "Efficient and effective services must be delivered to the people that provides clean cities and environments. Every one of us has a role to play from the rate payer to the Councils. Our approach to waste management must be scientific, take advantage of technological advances that exist and most importantly it must be humane and just, understanding that the environment belongs to, and should be enjoyed by all. Africa University has signed a MOU's with Mutare, Rusape and Chipinge local authorities and I would like to encourage us to focus on implementing the critical aspects of our respective agreements especially as they relate to service delivery."
Mrs. Zanele Furusa, a prominent environmental activist in the Manicaland region, was recognized by EMA for her passion and zeal said, "we say that Zimbabwe is open for business and that we want to achieve middle income status by 2023 but how can we achieve this if our environment is in disarray and a serious health concern?"
She went on to state that greed is a key driver in environmental degradation where profits override environmental rehabilitation efforts and the enforcement of laws intended to protect the environment in many countries across the world.
Providing hope and prospects of a way forward, Mrs Furusa said, "It really starts with each of us and I engage my community constantly to get them to care about the illegal dumping that is taking place and take responsibility for cleaning their own surroundings and in making sure that it stays clean. Constant awareness is the key and we must collaborate across sectors, cities, countries and organizations to find solutions together."
The conference developed recommendations that will be documented and used to guide the provincial and national discussion on how to best engage stakeholders at all levels on how to protect the environment and improve the management of solid waste.
Jeanette Dadzie, OAPA Correspondent, Africa University
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