Did a mere monitoring visit scare Lilongwe City Council into taking action?
This is a picture of waste build up by a city-provided skip in one of the markets in Mchesi settlement in Lilongwe. The picture was taken on Jul. 22, 2014, when I visited the area together with the Lilongwe Urban Poor People’s Network (LUPPEN).
This wasn’t the first time we’d been to Mchesi and seen (and smelt) the site. During our February visit, we similarly witnessed waste build up, but also came upon Lilongwe City Council workers (featured in the picture) who told us they were looking into how to address the issue.
During our Jul. 22 visit, residents in the area told us that the situation did in fact improve for a while after February. Specifically, it improved until the May 20 tri-partite elections. Since then however, no waste had been collected.
Until Jul. 25 that is. A few days after witnessing large-scale waste build up by the market, we visited Mchesi again, and were surprised to find the City Council in the process of removing the waste. While they were not using standard waste removal vehicles, you can spot the Council’s logo on the front of the tractor:
It seems that the local authorities got wind of our earlier visit in July, and wanted to avoid complaints from LUPPEN, so they took action.
Of course, what Mchesi really needs – and is entitled to – is regular waste removal by the City Council. This however is not forthcoming for at least two reasons: one, the City does not have the required resources to effectively manage waste in the whole city, and two, because Mchesi is a poor area (wealthier areas get serviced). To get proper waste collection services to Mchesi and other similar areas there is a need for the City Council to attach more importance, and therefore funds, to waste management in the city, as well as ensure all of Lilongwe’s residents benefit from its waste collection services equally. Still, this represents a little victory that deserves to be celebrated.