Cliff and Ronnie set-up the Zimbabwe Sunshine Group after they identified a huge gap in waste collection and management in their community. After volunteering to clear up a large garbage dump which had accumulated at the Harare Exhibition Park for over a decade, the organisation was allocated the cleared space to set up its model waste transfer station. The waste transfer station is a temporary holding space where all collected waste is taken, separated and treated before being moved to recycling organisations or disposed of at regulated dumping sites.
‘’What led us into waste management was firstly passion for the environment. We looked at the waste disposal situation and decided to empower young people and women by creating this organisation that is paying them to collect rubbish.’’ – Cliff, Co-Founder Zimbabwe Sunshine Group
From four wheels to three
At the start of its operations, the Zimbabwe Sunshine Group used a truck to collect waste within the Exhibition Park, but they were having issues in operating the trucks efficiently.
“We were having a challenge going around and collecting waste because the truck that we were using was consuming a lot of fuel and sometimes needed to be used for other tasks”- Ronnie co-founder Zimbabwe Sunshine Group.
The amount of refuse which could be collected each day was limited and a more effective and eco-friendly solution was needed by the organisation. To assist with the overall collection of waste, UNDP purchased 5 three—wheeler motorcycles for the Zimbabwe Sunshine Group.
“ When we introduced the motorcycles, work was made easier as one of the bikes is dedicated to collections in the park, while the rest now go and do more collections outside” - Ronnie co-founder Zimbabwe Sunshine Group
Transportation is one off the biggest challenges in waste collection and it is key that an organisation has a cost-effective mode of transportation. The motorcycles have increased the efficiency of waste collection enabling the group to collect more and therefore earn more while saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions as they use less fuel than the truck. Since the introduction of the bikes in January 2019, the organisation has increased their monthly income from $2800 per to month to $6100 per month, hired an additional 7 people full time and created 28 indirect jobs.
Melania is one of the women employed by the organisation - ‘’ I learnt how to ride a scooter when I joined the organisation and now I am the supervisor for waste collection and separation in the Harare Exhibition Park. I am now able to earn a living through the work I am doing, and the motorcycles have made it easier and enjoyable’’
Reduce , Re-Use, Recycle
The three-wheeler motorcycles are being used to collect both recyclable and non-recyclable waste in Harare on daily basis. The non-recyclable waste is disposed of at one of the cities regulated dumping sites and recyclable items are sorted for re-use, repurposing or sale by the group.
Biohazardous waste such as needles, are being collected from households with patients who suffer from diseases such as diabetes. The plastic syringe caps and needles are separated at the waste transfer station, with the needles being melted down for use as recycled steel. Biodegradable waste such as cut grass is turned into compost which is used in the vegetable gardens on site. Produce from the gardens is either consumed by staff or sold to earn additional income. The composting troughs are also being used to culture earthworms, which are sold bi-monthly, earning additional revenue for the organisation.
Cleaning up Budiriro
“Mabin auya ! Mabin auya !” (The bin collectors are here! The bin collectors are here!)- shouts a community member as the Zimbabwe Sunshine group’s distinct three- wheeler motorcycle makes its way through the high-density suburb of Budiriro collecting refuse.
Budiriro is one of the main locations where the organisation has been collecting waste. The increase of waste in open areas has contributed to the outbreak of diseases such as Cholera in the suburb.Budiriro was one of the high-density suburbs at the epicentre of the 2018 cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, which killed 50 people and infected over 8,500.
One motorcycle is permanently stationed at the Budiriro Materials Recovery Centre, regularly collecting waste from designated points within the community:
“It had been four months since waste had been collected in the neighbourhood, but ever since the motor bikes came, we have really been assisted, rubbish is now less in our houses. The situation has improved but there is still more work to be done”- Mrs Chigidyi.
With the motorcycles, Cliff and Ronnie are raising awareness in communities on the importance of correct waste disposal and cleanliness to prevent the future outbreak of diseases. They have also introduced an innovative campaign called “Diaper Fridays” where the motorcycles are used to collect used diapers from households in Budiriro for correct disposal.
“ It is important that trash is collected to help eliminate issues such as cholera which is a problem in the community. The bikes are helping in collecting waste, are reaching the different areas in the community and are helping to carry smaller amounts more frequently”. – Dickson , Occupational Health and Safety Officer
The group is also raising awareness on the value of recyclabe trash within the community and is assisting members with the transportation of their recyclables to the Budiriro Materials Recovery Centre, where it is traded in for cash. Women form the majority of those who are collecting recyclable waste in the community and are earning additional income to support their families.
Ronnie and Cliff are hoping to empower more young people and women to earn and income through waste collection and expand their work to more communities in the city.
The UNDP will continue to offer support to the Zimbabwe Sunshine Group through business management training to enhance the group’s profitability and sustainability.