COVID-19 did not only result in many people losing their sources of income but it also led to an additional waste stream in the health sector such as the face masks, putting a further strain to Eswatini’s waste management systems. As a result, six organizations were awarded a total of E3.9 million ($210 000) in grants for community-based waste management solutions and income generation initiatives. This follows UNDP’s support in mobilising E9 million ($600 000) in partnership with Eswatini Environment Authority for the implementation of the Waste Management for Improved Livelihoods Project.
The project seeks to create an enabling environment for innovative waste management and business opportunities for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), especially those led by women and youth, to rebuild from COVID-19 and transition to a green economy.
The grant recipients were each awarded a total of E507 000 to implement solutions targeting several waste streams including textile, food, glass, paper, and timber.
One of the recipients is Enactus Eswatini, an organization that operates in 15 tertiary institutions impacting 500 students with 1000 members, which focuses on addressing youth unemployment through entrepreneurship and innovation.
“Youth unemployment is a pandemic that has engulfed the whole of Africa and is threatening the stability in the continent,” said Mr. Sandile Simelane, a board member, upon receiving the award. “Eswatini has had its own share (referring to civil unrest from June 2021) and there is a need to proactively address this as a matter of urgency.”
Simelane said Enactus will use the grant to scale-up seven projects that have already been established, which mainly focus on recycling waste from different streams.
Other recipients include Women Unlimited, Vukani Bomake, Kwakha Indvodza, Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders in Africa (AMICAALL).
In March, nine (9) youths beneficiaries of the Waste for Livelihoods Innovation Challenge were awarded a total of E400 000 ($25 000) under the same project.
Speaking at the award ceremony held at the Summerfield Botanical Gardens, Matsapha, UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Rose Ssebatindira, congratulated the recipients and encouraged them to use the awards wisely and demonstrate that communities can be agents of change in this sector and many others.
“This project also speaks to the targets of the UNDP Country Programme (2021-2025) and the Kingdom of Eswatini’s Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan both of which prioritise locally-developed innovations and solutions for enhancing the employment of women, youth and persons with disabilities,’ said Ssebatindira.
She highlighted that the waste management project builds on other pilot initiatives such as the Phatsa Sakho Nawe Campaign and experiments conducted by the UNDP Accelerator Lab looking to address pollution and other waste challenges such as the single-use diapers.
Ssebatindira further announced an allocation of 14 million Emalangeni equivalent to $900,000 under the UNDP-supported Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme to support the community-driven environment and livelihood initiatives over two years (2022-2024).
“The first tranche of the funding amounting to E3 million ($200,000) has been dedicated to the Plastics Innovation Initiative, that also seeks to support Government’s efforts to eliminate plastic waste, alongside the Waste for Livelihoods project,” she said.
In response, the Prime Minister, HE Cleopas Dlamini, expressed the government’s gratitude to UNDP for supporting the country through several initiatives that seek to improve the livelihoods of emaSwati to alleviate poverty. Dlamini, who was represented by the Deputy Prime Minister, Sen. Themba Masuku, said through the robust Country Programme, UNDP has continued to work with the government in unlocking the key development challenges using the poverty-environment nexus approach.
“This support and partnership with the UN family are greatly appreciated because Eswatini cannot embark on the road to recovery and building back better on its own. This is largely because while the country is committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of setbacks and stagnation towards the attainment of the SGDs,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Eswatini put in place a post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery to facilitate the creation of opportunities for income generation and wealth creation in priority areas of the economy, and tourism and the environment were identified as some of the priority areas in stimulating the Eswatini’s economy.
“I would like to commend the resource mobilisation committee for this initiative we are about today and the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs for effectively engaging the UNDP to raise financial support for this Waste Management for Improved Livelihoods and Resilience Project. The support received from the UNDP will ensure that the related post-COVID-19 recovery strategies are a success,” he said.
The Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Hon. Moses Vilakati, expressed his appreciation for the continued partnership with UNDP.