By Nyaradzo Nyere
PILES of used diapers and other uncollected garbage by the roadside are a common sight along the main road leading into Southlea Park in Harare.
Residents dump waste at a dumpsite along the road. They have nowhere else to dispose it.
Marian Vhiwe, is among some of those residents. She has lived in Southlea Park for over five years.
“I moved here as a way of evading paying rentals. I wanted to be a homeowner because l had gotten a residential stand and built my own two-roomed cottage,” she said.
But the challenge is refuse collection.
“Every day we face the challenge of garbage, we don’t know what to do with it and the city council does not collect it,” she said.
It is even a bigger challenge for Vhiwe, who has a six-month-old baby, who uses diapers.
“l can’t burn the diapers because they are difficult to burn. It was even more difficult when the baby was younger because there are so many myths associated with baby waste. I would end up washing these diapers so as to be able to burn the cover plastic,” she said.
A University of Zimbabwe research by Aleck Muchandiona states that poor solid waste management in Zimbabwean urban councils has been worsened by a decade of economic challenges, which led to outbreaks in cholera and other related diseases, which killed about 4,000 people countrywide in 2008 and 2009.
“The poor performance of urban councils on solid waste management has a great impact on the quality of scarce surface and groundwater resources, human health and the environment in Zimbabwe,” the research further states.
In the research, Muchandiona states that 99% of the urban council landfills were not sanitary. It was concluded that poor coverage and collection of solid waste were caused by serious shortages of refuse equipment, human resources and proper receptacles.
Poor sanitary disposal of solid waste could be attributed to shortages of landfill equipment and failure by urban councils to invest in landfills as revenues were just sufficient for the traditional collection of waste.
Precious Shumba, the director for the Harare Residents Trust, says the city of Harare needs to improve on issues of service delivery.
“The City of Harare is neglecting its mandate to weekly collect refuse from ratepayers’ households as reflected on their monthly charges. Their failure to collect garbage affects environmental management and public health.,” he said.
Innocent Ruwende, the acting spokesperson for the Harare City Council, says they are facing challenges of resources and they provide services to residents as and when they can.
“We are paid by residents in local currency and we have to buy fuel for our refuse collection trucks in foreign currency so we are left with no resources and in a financial crisis,” he said.
“Only 25% of residents pay their rates, the rest do not pay, so as council we are left financially crippled and unable to provide adequate services to residents.”