By Joyce Mukucha
As the world is experiencing unprecedented crises caused by the COVID-19, the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry continues to stand with citizens in this difficult time as it commits to support the National fight against the pandemic.
In his national clean-up campaign statement, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Mangaliso Ndhlovu said the National Clean-up programme remains a critical vehicle towards promotion of a clean, safe and healthy environment, during this COVID 19 pandemic era, and beyond.
The Ministry, he stressed, was committed to playing its part, help address the environmental challenges, in particular waste management during this COVID-19 crisis, and pave the way towards building a better future.
“COVID-19 has, in one way or the other affected us all. Everything that we stand for and seek to protect and promote is under assault. We face an urgent test of our collective strength and will.
“The 1st of May 2020, marks the 5th edition of the 2020 National Clean-up Program. Sadly, this comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has left the entire world literally shut down, as nations employ all strategies within their means to curb the spread of the disease, Zimbabwe included. As such, during this COVID 19 pandemic period, the National Clean-up Program places emphasis on a clean environment for a healthy nation,” he said.
He also applauded some local authorities that are taking advantage of the National Lockdown to reorganise their Towns and Cities and other often congested areas such as market places and bus termini, during the lockdown period creating clean and environmentally friendly workspaces for small to medium scale enterprises.
“I sincerely hope that when lockdown ends, new and better facilities, with adequate and appropriate waste management facilities, will be ready for occupancy. As a Ministry, we commend such efforts and the standard of cleanliness that has been set, and I encourage all Local Authorities to put in place adequate bins in the same areas to avoid recurrence of dumps all over our urban centres.
“Furthermore, my Ministry urges Local Authorities to stick to their waste collection schedules in the residential areas so as to discourage illegal dumping as most people are at home. Indeed one sincerely hopes that when lockdown ends the Local Authorities would have rid the urban centres of most dumpsites.”
On this first of May 2020 being the National Clean-Up Day, Honourable Ndhlovu urged citizens of Zimbabwe to remain at home, clean their backyards, segregate waste, and initiate backyard gardening using compostable material as part of the day’s activities in line with the lockdown regulations of staying at home.
“We expect that there will be no gathering and social distance will be maintained, but certainly lets clean up our backyards. However, what is also clear now is the emergence of a new waste stream as a result of the current COVID 19 pandemic in the form of used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), particularly face masks and gloves used countrywide by frontline health personnel as well as the general public.
“By nature of its use, this waste stream has far-reaching negative impacts on the environment and human health, if not properly disposed of, considering that, other than polluting the environment, it might transmit the Coronavirus. I, therefore, urge the nation to properly dispose of COVID – 19 PPE in a proper way and certainly never to dump it and throw it all over,” he said.
The Ministry, he said, is calling upon all citizens to dispose of used gloves and masks at designated places and not in the environment. A clean, safe, and healthy environment, he added, is essential in the fight against COVID-19.
Minister Ndhlovu also highlighted that when the world recovers, returning to business-as-usual will no longer be an option, therefore, there is a need to build back better, stronger, and smarter in creating a world that is green, just and resilient.
He encouraged all Citizens to embrace the 7Rs in waste management aimed at managing waste in a circular way hence minimising waste at any given point. These include Reduction of waste, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Remake, Rebuild, and Remanufacture.
“We can create a new social contract with nature for people and the planet. But we must act together, we must act decisively, and we must act now. Let us show what solidarity and concerted action can achieve. Stay Home, Stay Safe. Protect the Environment, Save lives.”