Sierra Leone News: Waste for Wealth Creation in Bo, Kenema & Makeni

Waste management has been a major challenge for municipalities all over the world including developing countries like Sierra Leone, where the situation has been grim. But a project implemented by German nongovernmental organisation Welthungerhilfe ‘Improved Waste Management Services in Bo, Kenema and Makeni cities’ has been battling this menace in the aforementioned cities, with a high degree of success. The project is creating jobs and a source of livelihood for local communities through the transformation of waste materials like plastics, scrap metals and household waste into useful products thereby linking local economic development to waste management. It also builds structures and institutional framework for effective waste management in all its operational areas.
An innovative and economically viable initiative has been developed for Bo, Kenema and Makeni to turn plastics and other waste materials into a thriving business whilst also maintaining a clean environment and improved sanitation. One of the most hazardous waste is plastic which is a big problem in Sierra Leone and usually clog the drainage system, causing severe flooding during heavy rains.

Administrative Officer for Klin Bo Waste Collection Services Thomas P. A Kamanda
Administrative Officer for Klin Bo Waste Collection Services Thomas P. A Kamanda

The project is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and aims to improve the management capacity in the three cities’ waste management department, to effectively coordinate with public and private operators for improved infrastructural investment in liquid and solid waste management. It also improves public awareness and marketing on waste management services including sanitation and hygiene promotions in schools and local communities, door to door waste collection operations including income generation through service deliveries.
The Waste-to-Wealth Entrepreneurs in Bo city are involved in reuse and recycling, and create useful items like plastic paving stones for pavement of houses and roads, environmentally friendly bio-charcoal-briquettes, eco-stoves, pots, bags, hats necklaces, sandals and a host of other useful and fashionable items. Their activities have a two-fold effect – reduce the waste that goes to the final disposal site and create jobs for citizens of the cities. According to the Chairman Waste-to-Wealth Entrepreneurs Association and also manager of Sobawan Waste Recycling Center Mr. Alfred Muana, since he started recycling waste to useful items he has been able to create more jobs and also earning a substantial amount of money to take good care of his family. He said he has also been transferring the knowledge gained in waste recycling to other people through training and workshops. He said his waste recycling center collects or buys kitchen and household wastes from youths who usually collect waste from homes for a small fee.
He said 12,000 aluminum soft drink cans are consumed in Bo city daily and 70% of the cans are energy drinks which they in turn use to manufacture pots, logos and house gate designs. “We make 30 pots daily out of waste can drinks.” He added that they also recycle waste papers, carpentry saw dust, rice husks and groundnut shells to make environmentally friendly bio-charcoal that does not emit hazardous fumes.
He said the bio-charcoal produces less smoke and can also be used in-doors with energy saving regulator.
“Our products are bought by private individuals, construction companies, NGOs and traders from across the country especially Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Freetown. We sell wholesale and retail to our customers and our products are good and affordable,” Muana said.
He said he has created jobs for sixteen youths and the center has also trains more youths amongst whom are disabledwho are eager to learn to eke a living out of recycling.
Lucinda Katta Coordinator and Manager of Yawei Development Association collects waste plastics from the Klin Bo youths who collect piles of rubbish from households to make school bags of different colours and sizes, bracelets, chains sandals, hats and other fashionable items.
“I get my materials locally from waste and dump sites to make many useful items,” she said, adding that the products are of quality standard and are affordable in the market when compared to imported items.
According to her, their work helps in so many ways to reduce the piles of plastic waste usually found on every step on the way around town, adding that she now spends 80% of her time in collecting waste and making useful items that will earn her a living.
She also runs a technical vocational institute at her center for sexually abused and vulnerable girls within her community, with waste transformation to useful items as part of the curricular. Lucinda Katta also disclosed that the project has helped her to procure an industrial sewing machine and other equipment to do her work as many traders in Bo and from Freetown crave for her products to resell so that they too can make profit and earn a living.
Another project beneficiary Mr. Charles T Boil also uses kitchen leftovers to make organic compost for gardeners and farmers within Bo and its environs which has enabled most farmers to increase crop yield and productivity.
Another important creation of the project is the Klin Bo Services, which is doing door-to-door waste collection in return for service charges which are affordable. According to the Administrative Officer for Klin Bo Waste Collection Services Mr. Thomas P. A Kamanda, 64 youths are involved in the collection of waste from households, schools, offices and the likes for a small fee. He also disclosed that at the moment over 2000 customers are subscribed to their scheme and they hope to expand on that to cover more households.
He said the Klin Bo organisation has been provided with Toyota Dynas, tricycles, gloves, nose masks, shovels and protective gears by the project to bolster their operations and maximize collection of waste.Monies generated from the waste collection are used to pay the youths and cover operational cost for sustainability of the initiative which was launched four years ago.
Mr. Harrison Kwach, the Head of Project ‘Improved Waste Management Services for Cities said Welthungerhilfe (WHH) is working with the Bo, Kenema and Makeni City Councils to build their capacity to ensure the three major cities sustainablyimplements their Waste Management Plan (WMP) that would improve city-wide integrated waste management services and involving private sector to strengthen public private partnership and the creation of businesses and livelihood opportunities by improving the value chain for waste-derived products.
He said due to the successful implementation of the project in Bo, it iscurrently being rolled out to Kenema and Makeni cities for replication. Mr. Maurice Williams, the Waste Technician SLE 1048 said Bomeh, the biggest illegal dumpsite within the center of the Bo covering 3.6 acres had been cleared to be transformed into a recreational park. So far more than 30,000 tons of waste have been transported away to reclaim the land. He disclosed that the facilities at the park will include an internet café, swimming pool, a modern toilet, a sport center amongst others and will be accessible by local communities in Bo city.
By Saidu Bah
Tuesday November 28, 2017.