Kunduchi clean up: Tackling waste in Dar es Salaam
By Petrina Darrah
Dar es Salaam generates approximately 400 tonnes of plastic waste each day. On the northern fringe of the city, the village of Kunduchi suffers under the weight of massive amounts of plastic waste and lacks the facilities to cope with it.
How plastic waste is affecting Kunduchi
Waste is a major environmental and health concern in Kunduchi. The fishermen in the community live off the ocean, but their livelihoods and the health of their families could be threatened by the amount of plastic rubbish that makes its way into the water.
- In Dar es Salaam, nearly 80% of waste ends up in the environment, rather than being properly disposed of in landfills. A lack of proper disposal leads to sickness – more than 70% of diseases in the area are water and sanitation related, the United Nations says.
- Most of the solid waste in communities such as Kunduchi is dealt with by either burning or burying it, both of which can cause health problems later on. Burning rubbish not only pollutes the air, but the smoke can be dangerous when inhaled.
- Once it is in the ocean, fish can easily eat plastic, mistaking it for food. The toxins from the plastic then end up stored in the fatty tissues of the fish – the part that people eat. These poisons can be released into the human body when the fish is consumed.
- A polluted ocean also means fish populations are threatened. Fewer fish makes it difficult for locals to earn a living and feed their families, who rely on seafood as a staple of their diet.
- On top of the health and environmental concerns, the amount of plastic rubbish spread throughout Kunduchi village makes the town a less pleasant place to live. Locals are keen to improve the situation, but with the rubbish collection truck coming only once a month, they don’t have many options for controlling the situation.
Addressing waste management in Kunduchi through education
To address the problem, help2kids teamed up with Nipe Fagio, a local organization working towards a cleaner and safer city through community education and clean ups.
Carlos from Nipe Fagio paid a visit to our English Corner one afternoon to talk about the problems plastic can cause when it makes its way into the environment, and also some of the ways people can reduce or reuse waste. Raising awareness is an important step towards coming up with solutions to the problem.
The turnout from the community was great. We were excited to see a genuine passion to take on this problem.
Two days later, help2kids organised a community clean up. As well as help2kids and Nipe Fagio team members and volunteers, dozens of men and women from Kunduchi turned up at 7am to pick up as much plastic rubbish as possible. Together, everyone filled up more than 10 large sacks of rubbish, which were collected by the garbage truck the same day.
Locals’ thoughts on the problem of waste in Kunduchi
Among the people helping clean up were several of our English Corner students. Twins Hassan and Hussein showed their support for the project. ‘It’s good to try and make our home a better place’, said Hassan.
Friends Ally and Hussein both stayed on shore instead of going out fishing that day to help with the clean up. They worked hard all morning to gather up as much rubbish as they could. ‘It’s good to encourage people to get involved,’ said Ally. ‘Teaching the elders and parents is important, so they can teach their children. We need to motivate everyone to take care so we have a cleaner environment. We need to change their minds about how to deal with plastic.’
Hussein agreed. ‘There is a lot of disease as a result of all this rubbish. The fish eat the plastic and then we eat the fish. What can we do? We need to make plastic bags more expensive, because right now they’re so cheap and everyone uses them.’
We hope that the environmental workshop and clean up day will inspire action in the community and encourage people to think more about the consequences of plastic waste.
A big thank you to Maureen Gituru and our friends at Nipe Fagio for organizing the clean up, and also our volunteers for helping out.
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