Mbabane: The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs John Hlophe has lamented that littering is a huge problem facing the country.
Hlophe was speaking on Wednesday morning at Hilton Garden Inn during a prize presentation for winners of the Phatsa Sakho Nawe campaign.
Hlophe stated that waste management, particularly littering is one of the most challenging issues facing the country. He said litter has now become the unpopular flowers in the country over, prevalent in rural and semi-urban areas where there are no proper waste management systems. “The problem is that litter is not only a threat to tourism potential and the environment but also a danger to livestock and peoples’ health in communities across all the regions of the country.”
While the quantity of waste generated by society is increasing enormously, Hlophe said the composition of waste is becoming more and more diversified, with the increasing use of packing materials made of plastic.
Hlophe, who was representing the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Moses Vilakati said His Majesty’s Government condemns littering and indiscriminate disposal of waste which has been observed to be prevalent in rural shopping areas, bus stops, roadsides, open spaces, and even along river banks which give rise to numerous potential environmental, health and economic risks.
He said it was in this regard that the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs challenge every liSwati to take responsibility for the proper management of waste and, better yet, avoid the unnecessary generation of waste.
The Ministry through Eswatini Environment Authority embarked on ways to sensitize, capacitate and guide communities on innovative approaches to proper waste management.
Hlophe said government shall continue to support all the initiatives towards keeping our environment clean, safe, healthy, and sustainable. This includes amongst other things the promulgation and enforcement of environmental laws relating to waste.
To reduce the waste and litter government and the United Nations Development Program launched camping dubbed ‘Patsa Sakho Nawe’ which is aimed at reducing single-use grocery plastic bags.
The success of the campaign was founded mostly on the cooperation of both the public and retailers in reducing single-use plastic bags that were mostly seen littered, had a negative impact on the environment and tourism potential of the country.
Hlophe was echoed by Eswatini Environmental Authority Board Chairman Mfanelene Mkhatshwa who also noted that waste and littering were the most challenging issues facing the Kingdom of Eswatini.
Mkhatshwa said it was, therefore, they have launched together with government and partners the No Plastic Campain styled “Phatsa Sakho Nawe which is aimed towards a Plastic Bag Free Eswatini”
Mkhatshwa said as a Board at EEA they are working on behalf of the government, and are now considering exploring a lasting solution to address the issue of single-use plastic bags.
Meanwhile United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative Onesimus Muhwezi highlighted that a rise in global production combined with incorrect waste management have resulted in almost 80 percent of plastics going to landfill and unintentionally leaked into the water bodies since its mass production began in the 1950s. He said the major effects of plastic bag manufacture and littering results in global warming, which is the damage of the ozone layer.
“Single-use plastic bags not only pose an immense pollution problem it also aggravates climate change,” he said.
Muhwezi noted that since 1985 when governments adopted the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer under the Montreal Protocol which is an international environmental agreement with universal ratification to eliminate the use of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), Eswatini has been one of the first countries in the Southern Africa to phase out the ozone-depleting substances in 2017, following the ratification of the convention in 1992.
Muhwezi said as UNDP they were proud to be associated with the achievement through the support that we provided to Palfridge, a refrigerator manufacturing facility in Eswatini.