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John Kumwenda

Year-Prize: The 12th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Beat Air Pollution

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John Kumwenda (Malawi)
Honorable Mentions


Introduction and Background
Environment plays a significant role, both to human and animal species. Good natural resources and/or precious minerals have been solicited for various purposes both for the country economic growth and human development. Malawi is one of the African countries endowed with beautiful creatures. These include, Lakes, Rivers, Mountains, Animals and the Vegetation. These resources portray significant tasks toward development by generating revenues after sales of products. And also through tourist attraction, which allow more people from abroad to come and enjoy the beautiful nature. The economic development and people’s livelihood depends on these natural resources (Malawi Government, 2010). In order to continue experiencing the benefits of natural resources, the world must have a supportive structure to conserve the environmental resources. However, despite major efforts the nations are doing to ensure clean and health environment, still more, people are depleting the environment. For example, Charcoal burning which has contributed to alarming depletion of trees in Sub-Saharan Africa especially Malawi. Also the deposition of plastic papers in Rivers, streams, which clogs the water ways and affecting the energy production at power stations e.g. Nkula and Tedzani falls in Malawi. In addition to that, the use and disposal of disposable diapers is also greatly impacting environmental health in this world. It has come to notice that disposable diapers are becoming a major concern in both urban and semi-urban contexts. This is so because people more especially women are just disposing off diapers untidily. According to the research on disposable diapers by Kumwenda (2018), it shows that these mal-practices are not just because women lack knowledge about its adversity of disposable diapers but far more attributed with ‘no care’ or untidy behavior also. In this paper much accentuation has been accustomed to waste management practices and its innovative solution/s towards beating air pollution.
Environment and Waste Management Practices in Malawi
Waste management has been problematic in many countries with Malawi not exception. Poor waste management rehearsals have facade main threats to good air-oxygen and also water quality. The threats are radiated from pollution with sewerage in urban areas and with agro-chemicals in rural areas, and the proliferation of invasive plants. The country’s lakes, rivers and wetlands and wetland ecosystem functions are all under threat1.In additional to the mentioned pollutants, disposable diapers are also polluting the environment. This is not only associated by its chemical compounds but also as a waste in general. In a research on the topic knowledge, perceptions and disposal of disposable diapers in Malawi, Lilongwe, Mtandire, Semi-Urban area2, it reviewed some of the hazardous practices, which people are doing related to the disposal of these disposable diapers waste. Some of the ways include, but not limited to, the following: -dumping off in Rivers (Chimbalame), on road sides and drains. The worst disposal method was about putting these disposable diaper wastes on top of kitchen roofs. This is a concern as this would subsequently precipitate into diverse chronic diseases e.g. Cholera and Diarrhea. For more information on this research visit facebook.com/mytsogolo.
Furthermore, these disposable diapers were found to be possessing some of the hazardous chemicals. These chemicals pollute the air when disposable diapers are burnt or else just disposed unsafely. Disposable diaper wastes release chemicals e.g. Methane which replaces oxygen in the air hence causing air pollution.
The inhalation of such chemicals can cause saddles to human life-the respiratory part. It can result into low quality oxygen supply if the condition remains unchecked. Apart from the household related disposal of the disposable diapers, pads etc., manufacturing industries are also contributing a lot towards the pollution of air. For example, the poultry companies e.g. Central Poultry, when they are discharging their poultry wastes, they do carry it in the ‘bin-vehicles’ moving along the M1 road without caring the grievous fumes invoked from these wastes. According to my opinion these wastes are left untreated, that is also why it produces unhealthy smell. People usually touches their noise all the way justifying their ‘uncomfortability’ with such kind of fumes. However, up to now, no any intervention has been excogitated to end this practice. This may be far more attributed to political affiliations and greedy/ uncaring attitude. The words, of course, have hostile implication more especially nowadays. But I mean it in the subdue of the term. As a country that cares about its citizen’s health, there is needfulness of coming up with SMART3 and innovative interventions to help to address the challenge. Such interventions do not require huge sums of funds to implement but only well-grounded strategies. Therefore, in this paper, simple SMART and innovative ways on how to combat air pollution with respect to the waste and manufacturing section have been outlined:
SMART and Innovative Interventions
SAKA Disposal Method
Saka disposable method involves making use of simple locally available ‘Masaka’ into small designed bags. The bag is made with considerable amount of disposables per week. This is so to reduce the length the diaper wastes can stay in the Sacks, which in turn antecedent into producing hazardous fumes e.g. Methane production (Puig and González, 2009). As the fumes gradually precipitate into air pollution. The Sacks are sewed by our local designers in the community. This innovative method was already experimented in a certain semi-urban area (Mtandire), and it yielded massive results. People demanded more of it during the trial period. The Saka disposal method was invented by John Kumwenda (author of this concept paper) during the time the study was being conducted. The novelty of this intervention is that the materials are readily and locally available and also cheap. Women can easily access the Sacks and design it in the way they want as long it helps to keep disposable diaper wastes away from the street roads, Rivers etc. Periodical trainings can be conducted to people on how they can design a convenient sack bag/s. In addition to that, due the presence of their cellulose, the diapers can also be recycled biologically to recover nutrients present in them (Turpin-Marion, 2011).
Civic Education
Conducting Civic Education on the negative impacts of bad fumes, wastes with regards to air pollution. The Information, Communication and Education Materials may be developed in large quantities to spread the intended message to the population. Some messages include, Preventive Measures of Poor Waste Disposal, Harmful Impacts of Poor Waste Disposal, and the overall merits of living in a clean environment. This intervention will help the population to accumulate more knowledge on the goodness of clean environment. And as a matter of fact, knowledge is power, and once people have knowledge about something, automatically their perceptions and actions change.
Establishment of Waste Treatment Centers
Based on observation and simple research, it is well known that Malawi as a country does not have waste treatment structure/ centers. Once the city council collects the garbage, they deposit it to the waste disposal site herein referred to as ‘’Kumtaya’’ in our local language. To deeply scrutinize this, the practice is again contributing to environmental degradation more especially to air pollution also. As the wastes are compiling up, the neighborhoods will be exposed to harmful smells which in turn endanger their lives. In order to counteract this effect, we need to set up waste treatment centers. The wastes can be collected either by the city councils and/or the just emerging waste collector’s private firms in residential areas. After the collection, the wastes can be directed to the treatment centers whereby, for example, plastics can be recycled into products e.g. Plastics Cups, Shoes etc. And the other decomposable materials can be used to produce compost manure/organic fertilizers., which can be supplied to the farmers to support crop production. This can also improve soil fertility and soil structure. On the mode of distribution and sell, these products can be ferried to already existing enterprises e.g. Farmers World-organic fertilizers. Also some small shops can be established to sell these products in the local community and urban markets. In so doing, creating job opportunities to the population, both for skilled and unskilled workforce.
Wastes materials can also be used for biogas generation. This process involves use of water, organic materials e.g. dung, and a sealed container. This biogas can also be ferried to the established markets for sale hence creating revenues in the society.


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