Waste Management and Urban Poverty in Africa

Zomba and Urbana Sister Cities Committee members and Zomba City staff at the Guardian Ablution Block, Zomba Hospital in Malawi.

Zomba and Urbana Sister Cities Committee members and Zomba City staff at the Guardian Ablution Block, Zomba Hospital in Malawi. The structure includes showers, bathrooms, and clothes washing and drying facilities for use by guardians who provide food, clean sheets, and clothes for hospitalized relatives. The Guardian Ablution Block is the only such facility available to guardians, who travel considerable distances to care for their family members and relatives.

ISGS Engineering Geologist, Christopher Stohr, participated in an international meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, co-sponsored by the Sister Cities International, Inter Region Economic Network Kenya and Eastern Africa Sister Cities, and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. As the project manager for the local part of the trilateral group composed of Urbana, Illinois (USA)–Zomba (Malawi)–Haizhu District Guangzhou (People’s Republic of China), Stohr signed an agreement for a development project as part of the Sino-African Initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Sino-African Initiative was recognized by the U.S. Department of State in a recent press release. The project was one of only three selected for this pilot citizen diplomacy development project (see article).

At the Nairobi conference where the documents were signed; listening to simultaneous translation of the proceedings.

Stohr attended the Nairobi conference where the documents were signed. From left to right: representative from the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries; Alick Chima, Administrative Officer for Zomba City; Stohr; and Busta Chiona, Zomba Sister Cities Sino-African Initiative project manager. They are listening to simultaneous translation of the proceedings.

The new development project in Zomba, Malawi, will divert organic wastes from the municipal wastes ordinarily dumped at an open waste fill. A key part of the project will be to build on the existing pattern of taking wastes to collection points within the community and then promote self-separation of the large amount of organic wastes from noncompostable materials. Organic wastes will be composted at a new facility at the sewage treatment plant, and the compost will be made available for sale to farmers as a self-sustaining activity.

Left to right: Stohr, holding a ceremonial spear; Busta Chiona, Zomba Sister Cities Sino-African Initiative project manager; and Dickson Vuwa Phiri, chair of the Zomba Sister Cities Committee and head librarian for the University of Malawi.

Left to right: Stohr, holding a ceremonial spear; Busta Chiona, Zomba Sister Cities Sino-African Initiative project manager; and Dickson Vuwa Phiri, chair of the Zomba Sister Cities Committee and head librarian for the University of Malawi.

Professor James Chimphamaba, Chair, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at the Chancellor’s College campus, University of Malawi, Zomba, invited Stohr to give a presentation during his visit to Malawi prior to the conference. Stohr presented “Revisiting Engineering Geology Investigations of a Hazardous-Waste Landfill Failure in West Central Illinois, USA” on Monday, January 28, based on research conducted at the Illinois State Geological Survey, Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Department of Geography and Earth Sciences currently has several faculty who are living outside the country while studying for advanced degrees. Chimphamaba and Stohr discussed the possibility of inviting working professionals and faculty from the United States to Zomba for several days up to one week to give lectures and participate in field trips during the time the Geography and Earth Sciences faculty members are out of the country. Stohr is seeking funding for the project and is working with Timothy Larson and others to prepare a list of topics and lecturers.