HEMT buys garbage from Highfields households

The Highfields Environmental Management Trust plans to buy garbage from households in Highfields in an initiative aimed at creating a healthy environment and showing people that anything can be turned into a source of income.

Saidi Mase: Residents will fall over each other to collect garbage for sale.
Saidi Mase: Residents will fall over each other to collect garbage for sale.

HEMT hopes to help restore Harare’s sunshine city status while eradicating poverty. To kick start the programme, some 160 residents from across the political divide in one of Harare’s oldest suburbs will receive basic training in waste management on July 29.

After the one-day training, they will be issued with plastic refuse bags for distribution to the community’s 8,000 households.

The trust’s chairperson, Maureen Chisoko, said the organisation was formed early this year to enable residents make a living out of refuse while contributing towards a clean and healthy town.

“Soon residents would be falling over each other to pick up litter on the streets and convert it into cash at designated refuse buying points,” she said.

Charles Beni, HEMT director, said residents should own the programme as it would benefit everybody and in time empower the community. According to Beni, the initiative would cushion residents from the negative impact of unemployment as they will have a source of income to meet their basic needs.

“With five kilograms of separated refuse selling at a r minimum rate of 25 cents per kg high enthusiasm would be created among communities leading to a clean environment,” he said, adding that HEMT was setting a viable model of environment management for other towns across the country.

He called on the corporate world and other stakeholders to throw their weight behind the project.

Saidi Mase, the trust’s deputy director, said there was a ready market for tin, paper, plastic and other forms of refuse, and sadza and vegetables would be used for compost to be used at garden projects and sold to farmers.

“We would later urge the local authority to cut refuse collection levies as HEMT would be collecting the refuse on its behalf,” said Mase.

Primary schools surrounding Lusaka Business Centre, such as Nyandoro, Tsungai and Mutasa, are partnering HEMT in the project. Environmental Management Clubs will be introduced at the schools soon to catch the children young and turn them into responsible citizens.

As schools are major refuse dumping areas given their large enrolments, they will be designated rubbish selling points. The trust has 15 core members and wants no political interference.

It will be donor funded for the coming few months until it becomes self-sufficient.

The donor, who could not be identified for professional reasons, plans to sink a borehole at a site given by Harare City Council near the Lusaka Business Centre for the compost and garden project.

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