19 April 2013

Namibia: Job Creation Through Waste Management

THE possibility of creating green jobs in Namibia lies in minimising the amount of waste sent to dumpsites because they are sustainable.

This was the view of Gys Louw, Manager of Rent-A-Drum, during his presentation on “job creation in waste management” at the national workshop seeking to strengthen the link between the green economy in Namibia and job creation. The workshop concluded in the capital yesterday.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines ‘green jobs' as jobs which help to reduce negative environmental impacts, ultimately leading to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies. Such jobs reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials, limit green house gas emissions, minimise waste and pollution and protect and restore ecosystems.

Louw said the fact that Namibia only has three landfills, including the Kupferberg which services Windhoek, is a situation that needs to be rectified soonest for the sake of protecting the country's sensitive environment and precious water resources, and it is in this regard that the possibility of creating green jobs shines brightest as it will minimise the amount of waste sent to dumpsites.

“Green jobs and decent work is one of the ways forward. However, most of the smaller towns and villages in rural areas do not have any waste management plans and therefore, do not apply any waste diversion from landfill techniques,” he noted.

Green jobs are in sync with the ambitions of the Namibian National Development Plan 4 (NDP4) which calls for people-centered economic growth based upon the principles of sustainable development.

Louw outlined that with a population of 2.1 million and an average 0.6 kilograms of waste generated per rural person and three kilograms generated per urban person daily, Namibia is producing around 3000 tonnes of waste daily.

“If between 60 and 80 percent is recyclable then the waste that can be diverted from landfill is around 1 800 tonnes daily. The potential for the diversion of waste from landfills can therefore be considered utterly untapped,” he said.

He added that taking into account the lower rate of female employment and the general plight of rural women and taking into account that Namibia has an exceptionally high dependency ratio, rural women could be deployed to dumpsites to collect recyclables and be remunerated on the basis of a buy-back centre.

“Essentially, thousands of jobs could be created for women. Infrastructure, logistics and decent work conditions are the only limiting factors but are not impossible to achieve if the funds are there.

“Waste generation is a human condition and municipal waste management should ideally form part of any developing country's environmental priorities but funds, policy and skills are lacking. The days of business as usual are over. Climate change and its impact on the world is palpable and it is ultimately the poor that will suffer,” he said.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba has said that the government's focus on promoting the green economy in Namibia is motivated by the need to improve and create a harmonious balance between the well-being of the Namibian people and the imperative of industrialisation, job creation, the utilisation of natural resources for the benefit of the people and the need to ensure sustainability and environmental conservation.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) states that Namibia faces challenges towards green skills development. It states that it is of vital importance that green skills are taken into account in national skills identification mechanisms, such as those generated through labour market information systems. It also calls for skills to be identified, appropriate training needs put in to respond to new skills requirements.

Rent-A-Drum has been in the recycling business for the past 12 years. In 2010 the company introduced its ‘Windhoek is recycling' project where households can place all their recyclables into clear bags which were collected by the company.

Each household is supplied with a starter pack consisting of two clear plastic bags into which the recyclable materials are deposited. A list with all recyclable materials is also provided.

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