Waste management project improves women’s livelihoods

By Memory Chamisa

WOMEN in Epworth suburb have embarked on successful waste management projects as part of efforts to sustain their families.

As the proverb goes, ‘give man a fish, and you feed him for a day, but teach man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,’ this is the remarkable story of women from Epworth suburb in Harare, who have started a waste management project that they now earn a living from.

Under the banner Waste for Cash/ Nhonga Marara/Ingcekeza Iyimpilo, these women came together through the guidance of government and development partners to create a source of income.

“This project has greatly improved our livelihood in Epworth, we pick up litter and sell it to companies that are into recycling. We sort it out according to the nature of the plastic. We are grateful to the partners who have come on board to assist us in earning a living and supporting our families. We clean our surroundings twice a week, segregate our own waste, collect plastic bottles from all the homes to sell to scrap-dealers, and recycle,” said
Sinazeni Maphosa, a beneficiary of the project.

“This waste project has significantly changed our lives. Epworth is one community that has a lot going on and as women we truly appreciate the work each and every one of us is putting. During the first days people used to laugh at us as we went around picking litter and sometimes it would demotivate us but as soon as we realised money could be made out of the litter and our livelihoods improved more women joined us.”

Director Zimbabwe Sunshine Group Ronny Mbaisa and National Coordinator for Global Environment Facility Tsitsi Wutawunashe spoke on the need to capacitate such projects.

“Women have majority representation in many informal roles such as waste pickers at dump sites. Here in Epworth some of the women were sex workers and this project was has rehabilitated them in easing back into normal employment,” said Mbaisa.

“Things can change for the better, If policymakers, businesses and communities can overcome the traditional stereotypes, waste management presents a huge opportunity to strengthen the equal participation of women and men in society,” said Wutawunashe.

Climate Change Mitigation Expert in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Lawrence Mashungu applauded the resilience shown by the women.

“By focusing on sustainability, we are seeing women’s roles in waste management evolve and improve. This is giving them employment opportunities that help them play a more equal role in society,” he said.

These women are proving that if supported and well-equipped, their active role in waste management activities can benefit their families and the community at large.