Namibia: Turning Plastic Waste Into Building Materials

A group of people at Swakopmund's Democratic Resettlement Community settlement are turning plastic waste, including bottles, into building material for their shelter.

The group of about 300 people, including children who benefit from the soup kitchen there and people who exhibit their craft, have been gathering at the Dantago Arts and Craft centre in the Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC) residential area with recycled cooldrink bottles to build a proper structure, consisting of an art and craft selling room, workshop, restaurant and sleeping rooms.

The group has already completed a part of the structure which has become a tourist attraction to both tourists and the local community.

Walking through the area, one can see a group of children filling bottles with sand, collecting bottles and carrying some to the centre, where the older members of the centre secure them with cement to form walls.

The construction of the centre with bottles started in 2016 with a trial toilet and was the brainchild of the owner, Katrina Garises.

It was constructed by her son Reinhard Gariseb and his friends.

"This is an affordable way to build a structure that can withstand the wind, cold and especially save lives in cases of fire. The sand helps to put out the fires, and save us from a lot of trouble.

"It only needs cement and bottles. It also keeps the area clean as we pick up the bottles that are lying around," said Gariseb.

The group of people have so far helped to complete one side of the centre where arts and craft materials are kept.

It will take a lot of bottles to finish the entire place, and the centre relies on some companies and members of the community who usually bring bottles.

The group hopes that more people can visit the place and see how attractive it is and bring even more bottles, to complement its function as an art centre.

The centre also serves as a soup kitchen, feeding about 200 children from the area in the mornings and the afternoon, while teaching them arts and crafts after school.

Women can also be found during the day, making art products that are sold to tourists who are visiting the settlement.

The centre also serves as a counselling and religion centre, with art and business workshops and lessons led by Garises.

"I am in the tourism business here at Swakopmund and need to help uplift the living standards of the people in the area.

"They have a lot of talent and need guidance, so I try my best to help them through the tourism industry and also morally. We cannot wait for the art centre to be completed. We are all working on it," she said.

Garises appealed to the public to donate cement and food for about 200 children between the ages of three and 18, who depend on the centre for their only daily meal.

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