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Working with nature and cultures to transform waste

International Conservation & Clean-up Management (ICCM) believes there is an urgent need to protect and improve the environment of Malawi and utilise waste as a resource, creating opportunities for people.

Malawi is a small, landlocked East African nation with a population of just over 18 million. 82% of people in Malawi live in rural areas. These are places that lack electricity and people must depend on resources. Wood is used for cooking, washing, light, heat and construction. 33,000 hectares of woodland is being destroyed every year to sustain people's lives.

The nation is at increasing risk from the dangers of accumulated waste. In 2019, the capital city Lilongwe was producing approximately 250 metric tons of waste per day (Kamakanda, 2019). Alarmingly, current waste collection services can handle only a small percentage of this (around 30%), so the city, like many other areas in Malawi, faces a growing problem of accumulated waste (Barre, 2014). Godfrey et. al. suggest that poor management of waste in Africa is a result of a number of reasons, including ‘weak organizational structures; lack of appropriate skills; inadequate budgets; weak legislation; lack of enforcement; low public awareness; corruption, conflict; political instability; and lack of political will’ (Godfrey et. al., 2019). In comparison with higher income countries, many low-income nations such as Malawi lack infrastructure and governance to manage the high levels of waste.

How do you live? What resources do you need to live? Do you think about sustainability and carbon emissions on a general day? I never did, until I moved to Malawi, a country dependent on the climate for agriculture purposes, and living hand to mouth in everyday life.

What do we do?

The ICCM team in Malawi collects waste from household and office levels and works to recycle as much of it as possible. We are working with municipality Waste Transfer Stations to improve the PPE, sanitation and hygiene and clean, sort and store waste which is then sold to private businesses and community groups.

ICCM have 2 Recycling Point sites in Lilongwe Town that collect, store, and sell waste and products made from waste. The recycling points are made using local sustainable materials; bamboo and waste (plastic weaved construction strips, glass bottles, tin cans) to promote reuse. These have shops to sell items made from waste by local waste community groups. This promotes the circulatory system of waste that we are committed to grow.

ICCM work with 2 areas in peri-urban Lilongwe. With sprawling urbanisation waste accumulates and causes environmental pressure. They are informal settlements where there is no waste collection, sanitation systems and planning. ICCM have completed waste audits and an intervention report with community. The next phase is building capacity in the communities and training key people to create income generation with waste.

ICCM believe working to support the waste community managers (existing passionate and skilled people) can build the network and lead to more efficient waste management structures.

What can you do?

Education and awareness: ICCM are registered in Malawi but work as an International team as we understand the issues are global not localised to Malawi. Consumers in the UK impact the environment around the world. Science and technology, the understanding of ecosystems around the world is knowledge that can be shared to transform waste into resources in Malawi.

Research: ICCM are continually looking for solutions to challenges, if you are a problem solver, interested in developing sustainable skills or sharing your knowledge, or wish to build up our best practice research, please get in touch.

Working in partnership: ICCM strive to connect the public sector, educational institutes, private businesses, and communities together as we believe this is the only way that the issue can be solved. If you are interested in building skills and knowledge about waste and the environment, please get in touch.

Finance: Start-up capital is essential for every social enterprise. Financial investment and resources will create best practice waste management systems. If you or someone you know would like to financially support us in any way, please get in touch.

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