By Chimwemwe Njoloma, MANA
‘A Clean Environment: My right, My Responsibility’, is the theme under which the National Clean-up Day — aimed at promoting both organised and individual clean up events and volunteering to keep the outdoors clean — was launched by State President Dr Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday.
Joined by the First Lady, Madame Monica Chakwera; the Vice-President, Saulos Chilima; the British High Commissioner to Malawi, David Beer and other high profile dignitaries, Chakwera participated in the ceremonial clean-up exercise before proceeding to the venue of the launch where he toured pavilions for waste recyclers and re-users.
Dressed in a white protective helmet, white waste coat and white gumboots, Chakwera and the rest enjoyed irresistible camaraderie as they showed that it is the responsibility of every citizenry to keep Malawi environment waste-free and clean all the time.
Addressing the gathering at Chinsapo UNICEF Ground in Traditional Authority Malili in Lilongwe, Chakwera said the clean-up day will be celebrated on the second Friday of every month and the launch means that every Malawian should commit themselves to clean up their surroundings.
He said there is need for mindset change, saying people do not care for their surroundings by disposing of their waste within their neighbourhoods.
The carelessly discarded waste, the President said, creates bad odour in neighborhoods as well as posing potential risk to public health.
“This event is very important, so much that every person should take responsibility of their actions,” Chakwera said. “Own your actions — for your own sake and the people around you.”
He said the responsibility of a clean city and a clean environment should not be left to the City Council only because that mindset will never correct the unethical habit where people dump their waste everywhere expecting the City Council to clean up after them.
“As the theme suggests, a clean environment is the right and responsibility of every person. People dump their waste anywhere and everywhere — that is wrong and very hazardous to our environment.
“Soon we will completely stop the use of plastic bags and migrate to environmental friendly carrier bags so that we protect our environment and our lives.”
Chakwera urged Malawians not connected to the electric power grid to consider using briquettes made from wastes and desist from using charcoal which promotes the cutting down of trees and further put damage to the environment.
On her part, Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo thanked the President for his total commitment towards protecting and restoring a healthy environment.
She said the launch of the initiative signifies a new beginning that will give birth to a healthy people and a prosperous nation.
“A clean environment means no sicknesses and that allows people to take part in developmental activities benefitting the nation and their individual lives,” she said.
Her ministry, the Ministry of Local Government and other line ministries commit to invest as much as they can to sustain the initiative, just like other countries like Uganda have been doing.
She, therefore, called upon all Malawians to join hands and support the initiative, saying it will go a long way in saving souls through prevention of diseases that come as a result of unpleasant hygiene.
She thanked partners like MyBucks Bank and Iman Investments, who supported the initiative by providing the resources used at the event and urged other stakeholders to support the ongoing initiative.
The event was also graced by notable figures like former Local Government Minister, Ben Phiri of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and other members, who were dressed in their party regalia.
In an interview, Phiri said he was glad to have joined the initiative which he said was not a political initiative but rather national building and national development.
He said a clean country means a clean people and that he thought of joining the President for the launch because the initiative will go through to constituencies.
“We will have to carry the initiative through to our constituencies,” he said. “You may want to appreciate as well that with COVID- 19, Malawians are adhering to cleanliness.
“If we continue like this, we are not only going to avoid communicable diseases such as cholera, but will prevent all diseases related to hygiene.”
He said that is why it was important that every leader should take the initiative seriously and drive the agenda to achieve its aim.
The Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources has set Friday, November 13 as the launch for the district level where Ministers and Members of Parliament are expected to preside over.