Sustainability

WasteAid UK wins award for Gambia work

WasteAid UK wins award for Gambia work
WasteAid UK, a charity helping to establish waste management processes in developing countries, has won a National Energy Globe Award for its work in The Gambia.

The charity aims to improve sanitation, environmental pollution and the use of resources in communities in developing countries that have no access to established waste services by delivering simple recycling processes that are low-cost and easily replicable.

Specifically, the Energy Globe Award panel recognised the charity for its work in Brikama in The Gambia, where it has brought ‘an entirely new approach to dealing with the longstanding and intransigent problem of bad waste management’.

The Gambia is one of Africa’s most densely-populated countries, and the city of Brikama houses 40 per cent of its population, with inward migration having doubled the city’s population since 2003. Waste management services have not developed at the same speed, and up to 90 per cent of solid waste in the city is uncollected. This has led to widespread open dumping, uncontrolled burning and the associated pollution of air, waterways and land.

As the Energy Globe organisation highlights, waste pollution has an effect on the human environment as well as the natural one: it states that 54 per cent of international variation in child height is explained by poor sanitation and waste management, and that stunting is also linked to lower scholastic achievement, intellectual function, reduced lifetime earnings, short adult stature, and in the case of women, adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

WasteAid UK is working with local partners and has set up a local waste training and entrepreneurship centre that researches suitable waste reprocessing techniques, raises awareness about the problems caused by poor waste management and provides practical training in how to recycle waste.

Through the project, four separate reprocessing technologies – turning plastic bags into paving slabs, leaf litter into charcoal, fish waste into fishmeal and food waste into fertiliser – have been developed. Business cases were developed and researched for each of the technologies, with Energy Globe claiming that that they have the potential to quadruple median incomes of the entrepreneurs.

WasteAid UK wins award for Gambia work
Fifty waste entrepreneurs have been trained in five communities in practical reprocessing skills and have also been trained as trainers, so that they can take these skills back to their own communities. The Waste Innovation Centre has collected 23 tonnes of organic and plastic waste for reprocessing, with another 35 tonnes of waste estimated to have been reprocessed in the five community hubs as a result of the actions of the trainers and mentors.

Recognition helps raise awareness of importance of waste management

Mike Webster, Director of WasteAid UK and project manager in The Gambia, said: “We are delighted to have our work rewarded with a National Energy Globe Award. This kind of recognition helps us raise awareness of the importance of waste management for everybody.

“It is our vision to develop a network of such Waste Innovation Centres, and we are in detailed negotiation with a number of partners to repeat the approach taken in Brikama. This not only provides practical training on waste reprocessing and entrepreneurship, for we also use the centres to raise awareness amongst the urban poor of the importance of better waste management. We also engage policy makers and aid donors to understand the importance of better waste management.”

The Energy Globe Award was founded in 1999 by the Austrian energy entrepreneur Wolfgang Neumann. They seek to promote successful sustainable projects that present feasible solutions to environmental problems.

 Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said: “The Energy Globe Awards demonstrate that clean and modern forms of energy to drive sustainable development and reduce environmental impacts are available now. I congratulate all the awardees for their commitment to this cause and for their contributions to the work of the United Nations.”

Walk for Waste

As well as providing waste solutions to the developing communities, WasteAid UK is also campaigning to encourage the donor community to increase spending on waste management from 0.3 per cent to three per cent of international aid.

Individuals in the waste management sector in the UK have helped to raise funds for the project with a 70-mile bike ride and a sky jump.

Walk for Waste raising funds for developing countries
Next month, the charity is hosting a sponsored walk to the peak of Mount Snowdon. The ‘Walk for Waste’ is taking place on Saturday, 16 July and has been organised by Sally Talbot, Vice Chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC).

Participants will be asked to fundraise a minimum of £50 per person ahead of the 10-mile walk up the mountain’s Llanberis Trail. Departing from Llanberis train station in the evening, the walk will reach the mountain’s 1,085-metre peak for sunset before returning to the station for 11pm.

Mike Webster said: “The amount of support the industry is showing for WasteAid UK has been staggering. Winning awards and gaining financial support from the sector are vital in helping us spread the message and deliver more projects like the Brikama Waste Processing Centre. It’s an exciting time for WasteAid UK and we’re looking forward to growing the charity over the coming years.”

More information about WasteAid UK can be found on its website.

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