THE Maseru City Council (MCC) is battling to create community awareness about the health dangers of littering and influence behaviour change among the residents.
Maseru City Council’s Health and Environment Director, ‘Maseitshiro Khooe, said there was need for a change in human behaviour to control the levels of pollution in the city. She said the change was needed to avert the risk of disease outbreaks.
Ms Khooe said this at a recent solid waste management forum that was organised by MCC at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre.
Among the participants were delegates from United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), the local government minister, Habofanoe Lehana, MCC staff and the media.
She said among their strategies to curb littering caused by public urinating and open defecation, MCC in 2014 embarked onto the Hlabahlabane Community day programme where staff would visit communities and clean with the assistance of the residents. The residents are eventually expected to take over the initiative.
The project was initiated after visiting Rwanda in 2014 where similar initiatives have achieved great results for councils. She said this was aimed at mitigating the littering challenges as the council was ill-funded to go it alone.
Ms Khooe said the council had dedicated every first Friday of the month to create awareness in communities to clean their areas. However, the project has suffered from low uptake from the communities.
“Communities do not participate and the cleaning is then only done by employees and it defeats the entire purpose,” Ms Khooe said.
Ms Khooe also lamented the mushrooming of vending stalls around the city. She said shacks that have been erected by the vendors effectively devalue existing properties because they are unplanned.
She further noted that there was extreme littering at illegal dump-sites in Maseru which have posed health hazards and the city has increasingly become prone to outbreaks of diseases.
“Illegal dumping of diapers is a serious problem as they do not decompose naturally.”
She advised residents to burn diapers instead of dumping them at undesignated sites.
Some of the vendors in the central business district said MCC needs to urgently build new toilets and ensure that the existing ones are cleaned.
Although the vendors spoke on conditions of anonymity due to fear of reprisals, they said open defecation and public urination would continue until the city fathers clean the existing public toilets.
“With no public toilets in sight, I cannot carry on in discomfort, I would rather find somewhere discreet to pull over,” said one vendor at Sefika Taxi Rank.
Taxi drivers are however, taking a lead in stopping men from urinating in the open at the rank and have devised a way of fining offenders.