Making Juba garbage useful

By Waakhe Simon Wudu

JUBA – one local organization has devised an innovative method on how to effectively address the problem of garbage management in the capital, Juba. The innovation combats both degradable and none degradable wastes and transform them into building materials and fertilizers.

Help Food Security and Livelihoods Africa (HF-A) –a local organization in South Sudan – says the idea not only addresses the issue of garbage management in the Country but also addresses issues of environmental pollution, climate change and the problem of youth unemployment.

In one of its sites, Kor William a suburb located south of the capital, Juba, the organization gathers huge quantities of the garbage which includes majority plastic bottles. The bottles are collected from many other dumping sites in Juba. They are then burnt using fire into a metal decomposing the plastic waste materials into a liquid substance. The substance is then scooped into a molder of 20by15cm using a spade. Some little sand soil is added into the substance in the molder and then mixed-up using trowel. The mixed-up substance is left to solidify and hardens for some five to ten minutes before it is laid off into various building materials such as interlock bricks, eco tiles and pavers.

The process of combating the plastics into the liquid substance “takes too much wastes,” Godi Swalleh Safi, the Executive Director of HF-Africa says.

“For one interlock brick you must have a one full tipper lorry,” Safi says. He explains that the organization not decomposes plastic bottles and transform into building materials, but it as well uses old plastic chairs, clothes, shoes and other rubber waste materials.

The interlock bricks once produced and ready for usage – raising a building wall do not require other building materials such as cement, sand or water like the other common bricks currently being used across the Country in construction of housing. During the construction one simply interlocks them to raise a wall although it takes a huge quantity of wastes to produce a block. Safi explains this is because the idea is not to produce how many quantities of bricks or building materials, but to reduce the huge quantity of wastes in the capital.

Safi uses simple techniques and materials such as some little fire woods, paraffin and diesel to combat various degradable and none degradable wastes into the various building materials and fertilizers. Safi says the none degradable waste materials such as food wastes – one of the biggest garbage littered across the capital – is what they combat into fertilizers.

None degradable wastes such as plastic materials are burnt into liquid and molded into building materials. Degradable wastes such as wasted foods and other wastes are turned into fertilizers.

HF-Africa was compelled nearly two years ago to hatch the campaign of the waste management in Juba following the growing negative consequences of improper waste management, Safi says.

One of the most littered wastes in Juba with no proper management across the Country yet dangerous to both human health and environment is plastic bottles. Most are littered across roads, markets, residential areas, and undesignated dumping sites. While there are some efforts by the local government authorities to try collecting some of the garbage every day out of the capital, the problem continues to persist in large scale.

There are no clear statistics in South Sudan as to how many plastic bottles are being manufactured and disposed to the environment every day across the Country. But elsewhere, according to one U.S based distribution and marketing company involved in introducing consumer products – with innovative technology and disruptive solutions that improve people’s health and help sustain environment, GOpure says in one of its media research report that humans globally purchase one million plastic water bottles per minute, 91% of which are not recycled. This means that per day plastic water bottle consumption currently rests at an incredible rate of nearly 1.5 billion per day. 

The report explains that plastic water bottles contain a sizable amount of Bisphenol A or (BPA), a substance that has been classified as an endocrine disruptor, meaning it bears a toxic effect on a human’s ability to reproduce. Plastic water bottles also contain plastic softeners known as phthalates which can also be toxic to the health of the consumer.

The initiative as well helps to address youth unemployment challenges. So far HF-Africa has recruited seven volunteers who are engaged in various activities such as weighing the rubbish on scale, taking records as well as monitoring the whole process of combating the waste into some of the various building materials and fertilizers Safi says.

26years old Amna Hafis Lazim had been redundant at home after finishing her secondary school a few years ago. She didn’t get an opportunity of advancing in her education and was redundant staying at home. She is currently a happy volunteer with HF-Africa serving as a secretary for the last two years and is in the center of the campaign addressing the waste problem. 

“It was challenging. But now it is fair. This volunteerism is better than when one is staying at home doing nothing. Now it is something very good in a life of a human being, gaining experience and learning many more things,” says Hafis.

Like any other venture, Safi explains HF-Africa however, faces some challenges in its attempts to expand the campaign into a large scale.  HF-Africa faces one big challenge in its attempts to expand the campaign into a large scale due to resources or funding.

“Insecurity, if you go out of Juba town five miles 20miles to improve community there you are attacked by unknown people, people abuse you, you can be kidnapped this is one of the challenges. We don’t have donor funding,” Safi says, adding “since we began this activity no donor has shown interest in funding us.”

Currently, the campaign is in a small-scale production with little impact because of lack of resources to recruit adequate human resource to boost the initiative.

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