Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Studies show that humans are mostly reluctant to change because it breeds uncertainty and behavioral change. Furthermore, it shows that young people and women are more open to change than men. However, this article aims to inspire and encourage all citizens in different social classifications and ages to consciously improve their behavior towards the environment they live in. Any change starts with a change of mindset hence it is important to provide enough information to promote change of perception, cleanliness.
The problem statement
Lesotho generates 137510 tonnes/year of which an average of 20% fall within the collection system, whereas 80% is unaccounted for, either illegally dumped or ends up in open burning practices, (UNITAR). Waste generation in Lesotho follows patterns of human settlement and socio-economic development. This is linked to the generation of domestic waste, industrial waste, medical waste, agricultural waste, construction, and e-waste and education waste.
In other instances, citizens burn their waste openly which is very dangerous to the ecosystem. The burning of products and materials containing hazardous chemicals, such as mercury, will release these chemicals into the air. Even the uncontrolled burning of everyday materials such as plastic, paper, straw, and vegetation can form extremely poisonous “dioxins” and “furans” (so-called uPOPs) when burned under inadequate conditions, as well as soot particles that can cause cancer and contribute to global warming. These chemicals do not degrade in nature, and they build up in our foods and our bodies. This is why international environmental agreements have been made to protect humans and the environment - for us today and for future generations.
Efforts towards solving the problem
Lesotho as a developing country is also faced with waste management issues such as health and environmental concerns. Waste management has not received the necessary attention that it requires, even the extent of the roll-out of national initiatives to other districts is low. This has resulted in waste management issues being neglected in the development process and the country failing to view waste as a resource to be sawn for its prosperity but rather as a nuisance (MTEC 2014). It is for this reason that it is accorded a minor percentage of the national budget. In turn, the limited funding restricts the capacity to manage waste.
The absence of legislation pertaining to waste management has imposed a serious problem as roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined. For instance, the Department of Environment (DoE) is legally mandated to coordinate all environment management issues including waste management. Whereas the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs (MoLGC) through its councils is responsible for waste management in their assigned areas. The current setup where DoE is not an independent authority makes the very same mandated role of DoE difficult to ensure compliance. In addition, the nonexistence/establishment of an Environmental unit as proposed in the Environment Act, in the MoLGC hinders smooth coordination of waste issues between the two Ministries.
Taking the initiative
More often than not, people are used to blaming the government for things they are capable of changing and working towards for the benefit of everyone. Taking responsibility is the very first step towards effecting change. Keep Lesotho Clean is taking a lead in coordinating individuals and organizations sustaining the environment. We, therefore, urge everyone to start cleaning up and separating waste for both business and patriotically.