Tanzania: Waste to Wealth – Entrepreneurs Turn Garbage to Fortune

by Amref Health Africa

WASTE not, want not. Waste is potentially a resource. It is palpable that from a traditional point of view, wastes are a bad thing that could not be used for anything.

However, this is not the case for the Dar es Salaam youth and women, for them, waste is an opportunity for making money and keep lives moving.

We are talking about four groups of youth and women, majority being widows who have decided to venture into business of transforming waste into Charcoal.

Each group produces at least 500 kilogrammes of charcoal per day. The product is obtained from wastes, which are collected from streets.

Ms Clara Kalepo (61) a leader of Sitaki Shari widow group told ‘the Business Standard Reporter’ that apart from getting profit, they also engage in keeping environments clean.

“We keep our city’s environment clean by collecting wastes, which in turn is used for producing charcoal, in other words, we kill two birds by using one stone,” she said.

The four groups can now produce 2 tonnes of charcoal a day, which if all sold earn them 300,000/- a day.

The recycling of the wastes which are mostly scattered on the streets of Dar es Salaam city are positively transformative in a sense that apart from creating jobs for the vulnerable groups, they serve an important source of a cooking energy and reverting climate change by discouraging tree cutting while cleaning environment at the same time.

It is through AMREF the group got 15 million worth charcoal producing machines, which grinds soot to form bars from waste. The fund was also used for training on skills needed to make charcoal from garbage.

“The World Environmental Report of 2017 indicates that 2200 tonnes of wastes are sent to the main dumping place in the city of Dar es Salaam which is equal to 48 per cent of the total it is estimated 4,200 tonnes of wastes being produced in Dar es Salaam on a daily basis.” Read a report in part by Amref Health in Tanzania.

Ms Kalepo said as a group of widows of “Sitaki Shari” they used to collect waste from Sitaki Shari Street to the dumping places for earning a living but after being enlightened and supported by Amref through ‘TAKA NI MALI’ Project they came to learn how to use the wastes for wealth.

“We are now using the same wastes for generating income but turning them into opportunity,” she noted.

Ms Kalepo, a widow and a mother of four, added that the project has supported her and her 15 group members to have an access to livelihood while dealing with environmental conservation at the same time.

According to Ms Kalepo, earlier, the group was contracted by Ilala municipal council as agents for collecting wastes in the area. She said the group was using wheelbarrows for collecting wastes and later managed to purchase a truck, which is helping them dearly in their daily activities.

According to Ms Kalepo, there is need for the public to be educated on the important of collecting wastes. She said wastes blocks water drainage and thus causes floods and other related problems including outbreak of diseases.

In October 2019, The World Bank released a report which shows that among other reasons for Dar es Salaam flooding was as a result of growing urban population where the city is a home to more than 6 million people.

For Ms Kalepo turning garbage into charcoal does not only create jobs for them but also decrease the eruption of diseases such as cholera. “We are doing our best to ensure our streets and environments are clean, our aim is to clean the city but at the same time making money,” she said.

The Tanzania Environmental analysis by the World Bank regards Tanzania to be having one of the highest deforestation rates in the world.

It ranks among the top five countries with the highest annual forest net loss, with an estimated forest area loss of 483,859 ha per year (URT, 2017). The key contributing factors to deforestation are agricultural expansion and demand for charcoal.

Article first published on Daily News, Tanzania.

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