TOP
Sunday,October 25,2020 08:03 AM
  • Home
  • Health
  • Turning waste to wealth will save environment

Turning waste to wealth will save environment

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th June 2013 04:34 PM

While the Uganda Government tries to woo more investors in a bid to increase the country’s revenue, there is a lot of waste in our backyard that is undermining the economy.

Turning waste to wealth will save environment

While the Uganda Government tries to woo more investors in a bid to increase the country’s revenue, there is a lot of waste in our backyard that is undermining the economy.

 While the Uganda Government tries to woo more investors in a bid to increase the country’s revenue, there is a lot of waste in our backyard that is undermining the economy.

By reducing waste or turning it into wealth, Uganda will be riding on the road towards productivity and environmental sustainability, writes Gerald Tenywa 

Alex Mukasa who lives about 20 kilometres south of Kampala along Entebbe Road wakes up every morning to battle what he calls the “monster on the road”. His secret in this invisible battle is waking up early so that he is not trapped in the traffic jam to devour his time. 
 
About five years ago, Mukasa used to get on the road by 6am and could get to his work place by 8am. Two years ago, he changed to 5:30am because the congestion got worse. 
 
Apart from time, the jam also eats away sh500m everyday, according to a recent report by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). This excludes the loss in productivity and exposure to stress as well as the polluting dirty gases spewed by second-hand vehicles.  
 
As motorists burn their money in congestion, sources say a similar amount is needed for funding daily operational expenses including salaries at Mulago, which is Uganda’s national referral hospital. 
 
Overcoming such waste is part of what policy-makers should be thinking about as the world commemorates the UN World Environment Day today. The national activities organised by NEMA are being held at Kalangala, Buggala under the theme; “Think. Eat. Save our environment.” 
 
A report released by the World Wide for Nature (WWF), states that the world is using resources equivalent to one and half planets meaning that the human population is living beyond its means. “Whatever the world produces in 18 days, we consume in 12 days. It means that we are eating into our natural capital,” says Robert Ddamulira, an official of WWF. 
 
UN Environment Programme confirmed this, stating that from 1981 to 2005, the global economy more than doubled, but 60% of the world’s ecological systems were either degraded or over-used.
 
In Uganda, the villages that sit on mountainous areas such as Elgon are prone to landslides because of the destruction of the ecological systems that used to shelter the landscape. 

Production and consumption 
According to Fred Onyai, the monitoring and evaluation specialist at NEMA, the current production processes and consumption patterns are unacceptable. “It requires rethinking by looking at waste  differently,” he says.  
 
Onyai says approaches pegged on the Rs (Reducing, Re-using, and Recycling) would help the industrialists as well as consumers. “We should encourage re-use of materials,” he says. 
 
Charcoal production
Another wanton loss occurs during production and consumption of charcoal, according to John Ayongyera, a private consultant. For every bag of charcoal produced, he says, nine bags of charcoal get lost through inefficient technologies used to convert wood into charcoal. 
 
“Highly inefficient technologies of charcoal are used such that for every one tone of charcoal, seven to nine tonnes of trees are cut,” says Ayongyera. “For efficient technologies to be adopted there is a need to organise the charcoal production sector.” 
 
Improved stoves that would minimise wastage of charcoal and also reduce household expenditure are being used in urban areas, but penetration is still low. “Possibly less than a half of Uganda’s households use improved charcoal stoves,” says Ayongyera.  
 
Fortunately, he points out that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Uganda is working with Government to design a strategy that will encourage sustainable production of charcoal. 

Urban water leaks 
According to the most recent report entitled Water and Environment Sector: performance report, water which does not generate revenue increased from 21% in 2009-2010 to 24% in 2011-2012. 
 
“This is mainly attributed to the aging infrastructure in a number of towns, some of which have exceeded their design life and are in need of major rehabilitation or replacement,” states the report.
 
However, the report further states that, “Collection efficiency has continued to improve over the last five years, from 86% in 2000-2010 to 91% in 2011-2012. This improvement is attributed to the increased vigilance of private operators managing small towns.” 

Sanitation and hygiene 
Uganda loses approximately sh386b ($177m) annually due to poor sanitation, according to the Water and Environment performance report. “This sum is equivalent to 1.1% of the national GDP,” states the report.
 
It also states that 10% of the population in Uganda practices open defecation, which is estimated to cost the country $41m every year, yet to eliminate the practice requires building less than 650,000 household toilets. 
 
Food wastage 
As thousands of people in north eastern Uganda face the threat of sleeping on empty stomachs, a lot of food, according to Dr. Tom Okurut, the executive director of the NEMA is wasted in hotels and urban residences. 
 
“Currently, nobody knows the amount of food that is wasted,” he says. He reveals that a research funded by NEMA will be conducted by a university student to quantify how much food is thrown away as waste. 
 
Other researchers including Achilles Byaruhanga, the executive director of Nature Uganda, a partner of BirdLife International says the marabou storks also known as kaloli have been attracted to breed in Kampala because of solid waste including food. 

Waste management 
Banada Nswa, the Uganda Environment Protection Forum, a Non-Governmental Organisation says waste should be seen as misplaced wealth.
 
“The waste in Kampala could employ many of the urban poor,” says Nswa, adding that plastic waste especially bottles are exported to China. They are used for making warm clothing for winter. 
 
Other wastes such as banana peels are used by people who are engaged in urban farming in Kampala. 
He says waste recycling still has many barriers that need to be addressed so that informal waste collectors survive.  
 
In Uganda, more than 70% of the waste is organic meaning that it could be turned into manure and also provide employment to thousands, according to Dan Kiguli, the project manager of the Clean Development Mechanism under NEMA. 
 
Onyai blames the mind-set as one of the barriers to change in production processes and consumption patterns. For instance, pit latrines could be harnessed to provide biogas for cooking and save millions of trees that are cleared in such simple tasks as cooking food. But many people shun ecological toilets that would also be a rich source of manure and pesticides (urine). 
 
Other challenges, according to Onyai include capacity of the industries that throw away materials yet they could be reused as raw materials. 
 
Also consumers in less developed countries are weak and cannot influence decisions of the private sector and Government. 
 

Turning waste to wealth will save environment

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author