UNDP and the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs on 25 November 2020 launched the “Phatsa Sakho Nawe” Campaign – “Towards a plastic bag free Eswatini” an advocacy initiative to reduce single use plastic bags in Eswatini. Contributing to SDGs 12,13, 14 and 15, the campaign is a response to the waste challenge posed by single use plastic bags on the environment . Phatsa Sakho Nawe ”means “bring your own bag”. Research shows that Eswatini, utilises approximately 1 790 000 free single use plastic bags per month, through 3 of the largest retail franchises in the country.
The UNDP Accelerator Lab and the Eswatini Environment Authority (EEA), are partnering with 5 major retailers in the country to combat the use of single use plastic bags. The participating retailers are OK Foods, SPAR, Shoprite, Pick ‘n Pay and Boxer.
The “Phatsa Sakho Nawe” Campaign seeks to advocate three key aspects over the use of single plastics in Eswatini: to control the plastic waste problem through reduction of the free distribution of single use plastic bags, monitor behaviour change of consumers and encourage identified local manufacturers, SME’s, rural women, to supply the locally made multiple use shopping bags.
During the ‘Phatsa Sakho Nawe’ campaign, there will be no distribution of single use plastic bags on three days of the week from Friday to Sunday, starting from 4 December 2020. Consumers are encouraged to bring their own reusable shopping bags. Although plastic bags will be available during the week, shoppers are still encouraged to support the campaign by continuing to bring or buy the reusable shopping bags whenever shopping. The ‘Campaign also complements the ongoing Clean Eswatini Campaign by the Ministry of Tourism and Environment.
Speaking at the launch the UNDP Resident Representative, Rose Ssebatindira, stated that although waste management practices particularly recycling, unfortunately do not seem to grow in tandem with plastic production.
“The collective goal of this initiative is to contribute to making Eswatini an economy where plastic rarely becomes waste or pollution. As part of UNDP’s inclusive economic growth strategy underpinned by the principle of leaving no one behind, this campaign will also endeavour to promote a circular economy, that has the dual potential to create new jobs.”
The Resident Representative highlighted UNDP’s committed to support countries to improve the pledges that they made under the historic 2016 Paris Agreement. “The Climate Promise”, aims at tackling the climate crisis to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming which threatens lives and livelihoods around the world.
The Minister of Tourism and Environment, Honourable Moses Vilakati noted that waste management had worsened over the COVID-19 pandemic; along public roads, open spaces and even water ways. He highlighted the innovative approach of the ‘Phatsa Sakho Nawe’ Campaign, which seeks to significantly reduce the single use plastic bags, for environmentally friendly alternatively reusable bags.
“The Ministry has joined hands with our strategic partner, UNDP Eswatini and major food retail outlets to tackle the issue of single use plastic and develop innovative solutions to plastic waste problems.”
The retailers represented at the launch emphasized that the campaign comes at an opportune time and it is their hope that the single use plastic bags will be banned completely as they are very detrimental to our environment.