Waste management in crisis in Southern Africa

Waste is an ecological issue!

Today is the 5th Day of the RWA feminist school and the participants focused on waste management in their respective countries. The women are from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.


Women agreed that waste management in the Southern Africa region is in crisis. There is also a big difference in waste management between the rural and urban areas and between cities, towns and villages.

Even though most countries in the region have banned the use of plastic bags for shopping, plastic is still widely used.

All the countries reported that there are waste pickers especially in the urban areas.  Not all the waste-pickers are organised into associations. In South Africa, waste-pickers in the Western Cape have started to link with RWA.

All countries highlighted the impact of waste on the environment. The lack of waste support and management services implies that rivers are polluted. This creates problems for  feeding   livestock that drink at the river. Polluted rivers are also bad for irrigation. Also rivers flow in the ocean and we pollute the oceans – this is also how the ocean today has millions of tonnes of plastic waste. The high levels of mercury found in fish and its impact on our health was pointed out and an issue that we should become more conscious about.

In rural villages, there appears to be very limited management of waste by the government instead, however, there is a great deal of existing recycling and reusing practices.   Women reported that green (organic waste) is used for making manure and bio-gas?.  However there was also some problems such as the digging of holes and burning of waste which can damage soil and create toxic fumes.

After all the country reports, the RWA members all proposed that the movement begin to integrate the question of waste into all aspects of work.




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