Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Solid waste still remains an environmental challenge in Garissa Municipality.

If someone has ever witnessed an animal being slaughtered with plastics in their stomachs, there is a lot to be discovered. Garissa municipality main slaughter house has series of drama to this environmental pollutant.

In the parliament, the politicians have been putting efforts on one kilometer, one vote but in this case, it is different. One metre, one plastic product.

Plastics are used for a various reasons although plastics are certainly globally important product, there are many environmental concerns with its usage. Plastics are non-biodegradable. One of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. The decomposition of plastic bags take up to 1000 years.

One of the positive characteristics of plastics is that it is durable. Unfortunately, this is not a positive characteristic when it comes to the environment. The fact that plastics are durable means it degrades slowly. In addition, burning plastics can result in toxic fumes and lead to respiratory diseases. Apart from trying to get rid of plastics creating it can be costly to the environment as well.

Many plastics remain floating on the surface of our water ways, the place where many food sources life making them attractive to our livestock. Many livestock are killed each day out to plastics. Many of them ingest plastic bags mistaking them for food and therefore die. And worse, the ingested plastic bags remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Thus it lies in landscape where another victim may ingest.

Every once in a while, the government here passes out an order banning shop keepers from providing bags to customers for carrying their purchases with little lasting effects. Plastic bags are popular with retailers as well as consumers because they are cheap, strong, light weight, functional, as well as other good.

Even though they are one of the modern conveniences that we seem to be unable to do without them, they are responsible for causing pollution killing animals and using the precious resources on earth.

Plastic bags litter the landscape. Once they are used, most plastics go into landfill or rubbish tips. Each year, more and more plastics are sending up littering the environment. Once they become litter, plastics find their ways into water ways, drainage canal.

Single use of plastic bags have become such an ubiquitous way of life that is seems as if simple we can start reducing their use in small ways.

Recycling the plastics use already is another good idea. These came into use of various solid waste management techniques like holding garbage at homestead level while the government may be working out ways to lessen the impact of plastic bags on the environment.

Drainage has become poor as a result of plastics blocking water culverts. Due to low topography, there are a lot of water drainage canals both natural and man-made. Heavy floods clean the town but majority of the waste that is washed away, are plastic bags and other garbage. This has opened up breeding zone for mosquitoes especially this month of April whereby the level of rainfall was quite high. Mosquitoes feel quite warmth in plastic bags than even bushes.

The Garissa Municipality in collaboration with Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) have distributed dustbins within the central business district to each shop and all business premises having one. Since then, the level of haphazardly scattering of waste has reduced. Unfortunately, these dustbins are too small and are not everywhere within the municipality. The Municipal council also has to come with systematic collections of these plastic wastes so as to ensure the level reduces. Though there are no plastic recycling centers in town, fighting them has become a problem. Another thing is that there is no monitory value in them after use. It could create job opportunities especially to our unemployed youths. The plastics recycling companies do buy them at a very low prices in a way that any entrepreneur or individual who could gain interest in them, gets discouraged. However, each one of us should shoulder some of the responsibility from this problem which ultimately harm us.

According to Abdikadir Sheikh Abdisalan, an environmental officer working with the National Environment Management Authority based in Wajir, states that in a place called Eldas, they have established a plastic free society initiative. Plastics have caused deaths of large number of livestock especially shoats. The use of plastics has increased in the region. Due to change in lifestyle and consumption habits, most of the packet of choice is flimsy paper bags and they are one time use. Consequently, there is no waste collection due to the services not going beyond the town locality. After realizing the loss of animals, the community sat down and the Locational Environment Committees (LEC) and came up with a resolution in the area. All shopkeepers were asked not to bring plastics bags to the remote areas. They were also given time to clear the initial stock with minimum time possible. Any business premise that did not follow the agreed terms, is fined a fee of Kenya shillings two thousand only collected by the village elders and the local people. They have established a Local Environment Management Committee who ensure that the decision of the LEC is implemented.

Officials from the Ministry of Public Health are working tirelessly together with other relevant stakeholders in towards cleanliness and one of the factors that have been a success in the banning of nylons from shops. The level of awareness is low with a back up from ignorance. Unless attitude is changed, the impact will still be on. The use of these products they do not comply with clean environmental principles which entails safe dumping after use by throwing it anywhere and anyhow. These people they need a series of attitude change and comprehensive awareness creation that will instill discipline among users of plastic products who are mainly targetted as women, youth and pastoralists who come from very far to do shopping in town.

While there are many questions left unanswered when it comes to the environment and plastics, it is clear plastic is here to stay for a very long time.

Attitude is everything. Change your attitude, and you change your life and the environment

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