Having left his abode on an empty stomach, with some hangovers from the weekend drinking sprees, John Misomali (not real name) one of the merchants plying his wares at the market, decides to take an early lunch; a combination of nsima (Made from maize flour) served with kanyenya.
This is a makeshift restaurant commonly reffered to by its patrons ‘Chiimilire’ as you would not expect chairs and tables to make oneself comfortable when taking the meals and you just have to be creative enough by using options at hand such as sitting on a 25 litres plastic gallon while enjoying the fast food.
As Mailosi takes his meal uninvited six legged visitors tries to land on his plate and he keeps waving his left hand to keep the flies at bay.As the day progresses a running tummy sends Mailosi to the loo more than thrice and soon he finds himself at Zingwangwa Health Centre bed, diagnosed with acute dysentery.
This is just one of the dangers lurking from the piling and unattended trash mounds in our homes and markets. When diseases like cholera strike at times we wonder how it happened yet the answer lies within, clean it up before it get gets you down. A clean environment is a catalyst for development. As the saying goes ‘health is wealth’ nations round the globe can achieve more if the citizenry stay in a safe and clean environment.
Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating the ‘World Clean Up Day’ which fell on Saturday 15th of September 2018. A number of cleaning exercises took place across the country and in Blantyre members of Association of Environmental Journalists (AEJ) in collaboration with two youth organisations; Junior Chambers International (JCI) and Nature Kit Organisation cleaned Zingwangwa market setting a mark that what befell John Mailosi should be put to check.
One of the clinicians in Blantyre, Cydrick Kasonga, said if communities do not manage waste and let it pile within their vicinity it creates a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of diseases which are then transferred to humans through vectors like flies.
Clinician Cydrick Kasonga, for a clean environment
“A number of diseases such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid arise due to poor waste management. One cannot stay healthy in a filthy environment. We need to be proactive in this regard,” said Kasonga.
Concurring with Kasonga is National Coordinator for JCI-Mw, Elizabeth Chirambo. She observed that there’s a lot to be done on waste management and in all projects she advocated for youth inclusion.
She said, “We are engaging in this clean up activity because we know the consequences of leaving trash unattended. So we are cleaning the market and surrounding streets because we buy our food from that market and we want it to be clean at all times.”
In addition Chirambo said the scope of the work is wide, she made mention of the need for clean up exercises at the country’s hospitals especially the backyard and even on the beaches of the iconic Lake Malawi.
On his part Programmes Director for Nature Kit, Peace Mlauli said his organisation joins the rest of other environmentalists to fight against what he called environmental injustices.
“We are fighting against trash blindness. There some people and companies in our localities that are blind to the effects of trash. That’s why you see thin plastics piling up, dumping of metals and other non environmental friendly activities occurring. We need to be trash conscious. Even in our minibuses we would like to see trash cans. So we just want to underscore that it’s very possible to manage waste,” said Mlauli.
Mlauli further said the rubbish collected will be sorted and part of it will be turned into eco-friendly products such as eco-bricks and compost manure.
In his remarks, one of the environmental journalists who took part in the exercise, Chekaukutu Ndege, said taking time off from the newsroom and joining the community in cleaning up Zingwangwa Market on this particular day helped to send a message across that journalists should be part of the solution to problems society face.
Journalists should be part of the solution, Chekaukutu Ndege
“We are always on the run chasing current affairs, making programs and meeting deadlines. But this is quite a signal to the world out there that we are part of the society and we will do our part to contribute significantly to reduce or end challenges our communities face,” said Ndege.
The cleanup exercise reminds Mailosi of the days he languished in hospital after catching dysentery. He becomes an advocate for cleanliness at Zingwangwa Market.
“I was almost gone. In a few days people could not recognize me, I lost weight, it’s really important to keep our environment clean,” remarked Mailosi.
The global event on September 15th augurs well with the The United Nations’ goal number 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which advocates for healthy lives and promotes well being for all. It is also in tandem with goal number six; Clean Water and Sanitation. The UN says 2.4 billion people worldwide do not have access to basic sanitation services like toilets or latrines, but its possible to change this status quo. This year’s World Clean Up Day was held under the theme: Ending Trash Blindness.