“EAfrica” Rewards Outstanding Initiatives For Environment Conservation In Zimbabwe
By Wallace Mawire
Zimbabwe-based regional environmental organization, Environment Africa, has rewarded outstanding initiatives to conserve the environment in the country. Pertrecozim in Zimbabwe was awarded by Environment Africa the 2014 corporate environmental champion award for its effort to primarily address the environmental problem of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) especially in urban areas and the fact that it is non-biodegradable.
The business involves recovery of post consumer PET bottles from the waste stream through various channels and the processing of that waste into raw material for downstream applications in the polyester fiber value chain.
“This offers huge income earning opportunities for people that are ordinarily excluded from the mainstream business activity such as community groups and individuals who provide the raw material which are the PET bottles,” Environment Africa said.
The organisation said that because the PET pollution problem is widespread, Petrecozim’s effort is also widespread and inclusive because they follow the PET bottles wherever they are.
EAfrica said that the benefits to the community are immense. “Firstly, it improves the value and appearance of the environment.
Secondly, the problem of flash floods caused by the clogging of storm water drains is alleviated as a significant amount of non-biodegradable waste is removed from the stream,” EAfrica added.
It is also reported that the problem creates huge income opportunities for a lot of people especially in bottle collection considering the unemployment situation in the country.
The company is also reported to directly employ people throughout its value chains hence directly benefiting the local communities.
EAfrica said that the project typifies inclusiveness as members represent companies with competing interests but have been bound together by a compelling environmental issue – PET pollution.
“The business is open to new partners including CBOs, individual vendors, bottling and converting companies that generate PET waste as well as likeminded environmental organisations,” EAfrica said.
The 2014 Individual environmental champion farmer award was presented to Last Kupara of Zvimba, a retired taxi driver who started as an ordinary member of an Environment Africa Group in 2006.
According to EAfrica, Kupara received various trainings through Environment Africa that include Conservation Agriculture, nutrition gardening, beekeeping, tree nursery establishment and tree planting, conservation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources as well as alternative energy options for rural Zimbabwe. “These trainings gave him the knowledge and motivation to implement what he had learnt. This farmer practises conservation farming with crops such as corn, beans, ground nuts, sweet potatoes, cassava and bananas,” EAfrica said.
According to EAfrica, Kupara has so far planted various types of fruit and non-fruit trees at his homestead. He is reported to have a well looked after woodlot with 2100 eucalyptus trees which help in providing extra forage for the bees that he keeps. He also has 16 bee hives of which 11 are occupied.
According to Environment Africa, the farmer has taken the initiative to be the pioneer of biogas technology in the community. His homestead has a functional biogas technology that they are using for cooking and lighting.
“He constructed it from his savings after he had seen a pilot in Guruve during a look and learn tour. He has drastically reduced the use of fire since the construction of this biogas plant. He allowed fellow farmers to be trained during the construction of his biogas plant. This was an opportunity for the local builders who were on apprenticeship,” EAfrica said.
The organisation said that the farmer is an active member of ward three fire fighting committee and is the current chairperson of the overall Environment Africa Group’s coordinating committee in Zvimba.
“His participation in projects typifies inclusiveness as he works well with members of his Tavatose Environmental Action Group (EAG), leadership of other EAGs as well as government officers from relevant ministries and departments,” his citation read.
Also Bumba Honey and Agro-processing Centre EAG is the winning group for 2014.It is an organized group that is involved in environmental conservation activities that are providing livelihoods for the Bumba ward in Chimanimani and surrounding areas of Zimbabwe. The projects are beekeeping, honey and other hive products processing, multi-purpose tree nurseries and tree growing and conservation farming.
According to Environment Africa, the group is made up of 18 members who are crop farmers, beekeepers and processors of agricultural commodities and are running a honey processing enterprise that is providing a ready market for raw honey. The centre is now a community resource where farmers get information and knowledge on different environmental and agricultural commodities.
EAfrica said that the conservation of vegetation in and around the ward has improved due to an increase in beekeeping projects. The group owns a combined total of 2650 bee hives.
“The increase in honey yields has resulted in an increased income and this translates to food security being enhanced within the community,” EAfrica said.
EAfrica added that because the group understands the need for forage for the bees, the group has multi-purpose tree nurseries with seedlings numbering about 4500. They have also held 10 tree planting commemorations and distributed 2150 tree seedlings to individuals and schools in the district of Chimanimani.
The group works together with Forestry Commission, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Agricultural Extension Services (Agritex) in training other community members in natural resources management and commemoration of environmental activities.
“The Ministries of Women, Youths and Agriculture are appreciating the work being done by the centre by involving project members in government programmes such as inputs distribution and trainings.
This is a good example of a community managed business enterprise that benefits all people,” EAfrica said.