Mbare residents fight off “dirt” tag

Over the years the suburb of Mbare in Harare has become known as an area associated with dirt. However, residents in the suburb have teamed up to clean their area through a City of Harare and Oxfam led initiative of anti-litter monitors.

Mbare is Harare’s biggest market place with markets for almost all products from vegetables, grains, fruits, steel products, clothes, traditional medicines, wood products and many other things. Lots of rubbish accumulates daily from the markets coupled with city council’s consistent failure to collect rubbish has led to the many dumpsites in Mbare creating pollution and increased dirt.

A middle-aged female anti-litter monitor who was part of the group that cleaned the dumpsite adjacent to Rufaro Stadium on Wednesday 19 November 2014 complained of the stigma that is associated with living in Mbare.

“Each time people see a dirty person they always think that person comes from Mbare. We are tired of that stigma, so we hope this program will make our area a better place,” said the lady who could not be identified.

The anti-litter monitors are voluntary cleaners who have offered to clean the suburb two days a week on Monday and Wednesday. Nephital Mazarire popularly known as Nyati, who is the leader of the anti-litter monitors in Mbare, said that the program was being received well by residents. So far 353 anti-litter monitors have been trained in the suburb.

“Council gave us lessons on how to deal with litter and how to communicate with litterbugs, so this has helped us a lot in carrying out our work. We are now almost 65% in our clean-up of Mbare and people are showing a lot of interest in our work,” said Nyati.

Rosemary Musungwa (48) who is Chairperson of the Mbare anti-litter monitors said that residents especially women who constitute the larger number of the monitors, were motivated by the need to clean up their suburb which was turning into a health hazard.

“Population has increased here in Mbare which also means an increase in litter. As women we are motivated by the need to protect our children from health hazards such as cholera and bilharzia. Adults can jump over rubbish but, our kids cannot jump over and when they fall ill, women are also the ones who bear the brunt,” said Musungwa.

However, another anti-litter monitor Sara Makawa (30) complained that they were facing challenges with litterbugs who continue to litter the cleaned up areas.

“I think they should give us (council) arresting powers to deal with litterbugs, if we arrest one or two the others will learn a lesson. Council should also turn the cleaned up dumpsites into recreational parks and markets,” said Makawa.

Harare City Council Corporate Communications Manager, Leslie Gwindi said that council aims to have anti-litter monitors in every ward in the city. So far more than 500 anti-litter monitors have been trained in various suburbs of the city. More training sessions are going on in Mufakose where more than 200 anti-litter monitors are expected to graduate soon.

“We want to carry this program into the residents’ culture so that people realise the need to clean their environment. This program also gives us a protracted presence in every ward,” said Gwindi.

“It has also come to our attention that there are some unscrupulous people who are trying to hijack the program and this is really unnecessary. They just need to train their own litter monitors and start their own programs. They can come to us and we can show them how to do the program,” said Gwindi.

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