“To them it is waste, but to us, it is a business and livelihood”

Green cities
Developing Economic Opportunities in Waste Collection – Taka ni Mali in Tanzania

31-year-old Emmanuel Lucas Malongo is an inhabitant of Kirumba ward located in Ilemela Municipal in Mwanza region in Tanzania. He is married and has two children.

After completing his secondary education in 2008, Emmanuel started working at a fumigation company on a part time basis where he formed his interest and passion in environmental cleaning work. He got little support from his family, but his persistence saw him form “Umoja Wa Vijana Rock City”, a waste cleaning group with his friends living in the neighbourhood. The group operated using a voluntary model which saw the membership numbers drop from 16 to 7 members.

The hardworking environment, low economic incentives from the waste recovery activities and insufficient support from the government and local residents also contributed to the membership decline.

"The working environment was so hard; the community didn’t understand and acknowledge the efforts we were making in waste collection and environmental cleanliness. We would make approximately CHF 16 a month which was not enough to buy protective gear and support our families," explained Emmanuel.

In August 2017, Emmanuel and his group heard about the Taka ni Mali Project and applied to be part of it. His group was selected by the Ilemela Municipal Council to participate in the pilot phase of the project. Emmanuel fully immersed himself in the 5-month training that covered topics in managerial, technical, entrepreneurship and recycling skills. He was focussed on learning new things, networking in the industry and adding value to his work. The "Umoja Wa Vijana Rock City" group was supported by the Municipal Council and was able to launch and promote waste separation and recovery in Kirumba. Today, the households in Kirumba enjoy the groups service and have been encouraged to actively participate in waste separation at source and pay for waste collection fees each month.

Emmanuel has empowered his group to understand the economic and environmental potential of the sector and has encouraged many to join the business. The group now runs a small-scale recyclables collection company and has collaborated with 3 companies to buy sorted recyclables. Through these initiatives he has managed to increase his income from CHF 16 per month to CHF 23. He is proud of how far he has come and credits his success to the knowledge and material support he was given by Swisscontact.

"My self-esteem has increased, and I can proudly say I am a waste collector. The people around me know my work and fully support it. I am not just collecting waste but also educating households on the importance of waste separation and composting. I am able to trade the recyclable waste and earn more income. In early 2018, I managed to enroll my son into a good school and have started to build my house. I see a bright future in this business. I thank Swisscontact for creating this opportunity for me and my fellow waste collectors."

Taka ni Mali is an urban climate-smart project that purposed to develop economic opportunities in the solid waste collection and recycling sub-sector while reducing environmental degradation and health risks through the creation of efficient and sustainable Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems. The first phase was implemented between 2013 and 2016 in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania and was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Puma Energy Foundation. Because of its success, the initiative was extended to Mwanza in a second phase funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Republic and Canton of Geneva (2017 -2018).