Explaining the purpose of the meeting, Mrs Nabeela Tunis, Programme Manager of WoNES informed that the organisation is currently working with committees it formed specifically; in selected slum communities (Congo Town and Murray Town) in Freetown and that the meeting seeks to deepen discussions along the burning issue of managing plastic waste. She informed that the exercise will continue for another four weeks and asked the participants to propose innovative ways to effectively dispose of the piles of plastic wastes that are dumped at the Bomeh site. Mrs. Tunis informed that the ideas will be merged with other previous discussions around the issues to support a coordinated approach towards the problem of plastic waste. She asked the producers to propose suggestions that do not compromise their service, provision of clean water, to the country.
Mrs. Tunis also spoke about the organisation’s partnership approach to address environmental issues, its core values and programmatic areas which include education and awareness–raising, advocacy, protection and management of the environment and, gender and social inclusion. Mrs Tunis acknowledged the support given to the organisation by Christian Aid SL and other partners.
The UNDP representative, Mr. Abdul Kebbie, enlightened that one of their core mandates is to protect the environment adding that he is happy for the initiative noting that in the long run, it would help to prevent flooding. He underscored that plastics are a danger to the environment as they are made from different chemicals.
He further informed that plastic waste is currently being converted into goods such as jewelleries, slippers, floor tiles, coal pots and briquettes in Bo, Port Loko and Makeni and stated that the activity could be expanded as a solution to managing plastic waste.
The representative of the Freetown City Council (FCC) commended WoNES for the initiative for which the Mayor and the Environmental Department of the FCC would be delighted to partner with WoNES.
The chief of Oloshora (Murray Town), Alimamy Mansaray reiterated that a clean environment would prevent a lot of sicknesses and people from going to hospitals and revealed that producers of plastic products must buy the wastes for recycling.
The President of the Water Producers Association, Mr. Johnson said that they have held several meetings with various stakeholders with some of the stakeholders promising to donate huge land and import recycling machines adding that FCC and Guma Valley Water Company were instrumental in the issue.
The representative of the Environmental Protection Agency said that the agency ensures proper management of the environment for which it is working with WoNES underscoring that plastic wastes are a serious issue and hoped that the project would be successful.
Other participants reiterated that plastic wastes are a big issue in the city, that the country is dirty, that there must centralized garbage collection points and enforcement of the law, that markets in the city be divided into the products they sell as is the case in other countries, that there are no dumpsites in the city, the reason people dump garbage in the gutters and that while they the producers take care of their wastes the end-users do not.
In her vote of thanks, Mrs. Gertrude Karimu of WoNES stated that they learnt a lot from the interactive forum as participants came up with teasers and appealed to them to disseminate what they have learnt to others.