UN Volunteers Work to Improve Sanitation in Congested Community in Lusaka

04 Jun 2013

image Students from the Kalingalinga Middle Basic School collecting litter in the streets of Kalingalinga

A 13-year old pupil from Kalingalinga Middle Basic School defined an environment as “the surrounding that we live in” which should be healthy and clean. However, for a densely populated low income urban community like Kalingalinga, the words healthy and clean are far from the truth.

Kalingalinga is a bustling community situated, about five kilometres north-east of Lusaka City with an estimated population of 35, 000 people. In addition to a reported upsurge in crime rates, the community faces challenges of a growing trash problem spurred by irresponsible dumping of waste. The lack of safe water and sanitation facilities is also fuelling the spread of infectious diseases in the community.

On 4 June 2013, United Nations staff including UN volunteers partnered with the Lusaka City Council and a community based enterprise in a waste collection exercise aimed at supporting residents of Kalingalinga to clean their community. Youths, children, women and men from the community gathered for the cleanup campaign not only to ensure a clean environment but to prevent the consequences of water and air pollution.

The objective of the initiative is to encourage community spirit to waste collection and highlight the importance of keeping one’s environment clean. The exercise is part of activities marking World Environment Day which is being celebrated on 5 June each year. This year’s World Environment Day was celebrated under the theme: Think. Eat. Save.

The campaign was colorful and exciting as everyone wore yellow gloves, caps and badges with inscription: “be part of the community; collect waste” all in preparation for community service which attracted more residents to volunteer and join the exercise as an active responsible member of the community. The exercise was thrilling as everyone stepped out and walked through the streets of Kalingalinga to pick up litter on the roads and surrounding areas. The litter were thrown in bins and later handed over to the Lusaka City County for proper disposal.

The Acting Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Zambia, Simon Cammelbeeck who led the team urged community residents, saying “it is our responsibility to keep our areas clean and this way we become agents for change in support of a better environment.” Young, old, women, men all volunteered for a good cause and set an example to the country that “it begins with you” as Mahatma Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world”.

Mr. Cammelbeeck handed over the cleaning tools and reusable gloves to the community urging them to continue the volunteer action and initiate the ripple effect that will pave the way for citizens across the country to get involved in civic responsibilities that will contribute to peace and development.

In appreciation, Richard Muwyonshi, Chairman of Kalingalinga’s Ward Development Committee (WDC) lavished praises on the UN system in Zambia for helping to improve sanitation in their community. “Everyone loves a clean neighborhood, including our visitors. Let’s be more conscious of our surroundings and think twice before littering next time,” Muwyonshi told fellow community residents who had turned out to participate in the clean-up exercise.