By Emmanuel Mutangana
REJ (Rwanda Environmental Journalists), a non-profit national journalism organization, organized a special Umuganda which took place in Kanombe sector, Busanza cell (Gashyushya market) on Friday, July 28th, 2023. The objective of this Umuganda was to raise awareness about the environmental impact of plastic waste and to take practical steps towards its eradication.
In this Umuganda, not only were there REJ members, but they also collaborated with GYBN-Rwanda (Global Youth Biodiversity Network) members, Dr. Salamatu Fada, the owner and chief consultant at JAVS Environmental Care Ltd, Chief Executive of Plastic Free Israel, Evi Anca, Executive Secretary of Kanombe Sector, NKURUNZIZA Idrissa, Green club members, and the community living in Kanome.
The first activity involved cleaning the plastics near Gashyushya market, followed by discussions with the community about the consequences of plastic.
During the discussion held at BUSANZA Health Center, REJ Executive Director, Daddy SADIKI RUBANGURA said that the target of this Umuganda was to explain the impacts of plastic waste.
“plastic pollution is a pressing issue not only in Rwanda but also globally, and we believe that by working together in this endeavor, we can make a significant difference”, he said
The Director of Green Club, Felix HABINEZA said that all youth have to bring their colleagues and children in fighting against plastic use.
“Youth are the future of our community. We need to consider the consequences of continuing to use plastics – what will our future environment look like? Just imagine the climate changes we will experience. Therefore, we must collaborate and share advice to promote environmental consciousness,” he said.
Green club is the Nyarugenge youth club for environment preservation and fighting against climatic change, they started as youth volunteers in the period of Covid 19. They formed Green Club with the purpose of putting strength and voice in environment.
Felix also noted that the plastics damage the growing of green plants in general. “truly as you saw where we were cleaning plastics, those bottles, sacks, any plastic, if they stayed for long period, they limit the grow growing of green plants”, he said.
Rodrigue KAJE from GYBN emphasized the importance of youth understanding the consequences of plastics. “As members of GYBN, we aim to demonstrate the involvement of young people in this campaign. We cannot continue to solely benefit from it; rather, we must exhibit to our country and the world that we, as youth, are capable of combating this plastic issue,” he stated.
Patrick MUTABAZI also from GYBN added that the single you use plastics, they have various impacts on environment and even in people’s lives. “plastic is among non-perishable waste which has an impact on soil, water, birds people and everything”, he said.
The Chief Executive of Plastic Free Israel, Evi Anca highlighted that Israel also has the plastic issue but Africa has the biggest compared to everywhere she travelled in the world. She said, “I live in Israel where people use a lot of single use plastic, after noticing I started volunteering on plastic pollution”.
She noted also what made her to be interested in dealing with plastic issue, it’s because of how plastic affects environment, plants and animals, and she is researching on how plastic impact on human health. “plastic pollution is not something we can defeat today or tomorrow but by working together with the country, we can make a difference”, she said.
Eri Anca also said that the community has to change the behaviors of using plastics and look for other alternatives. “The first thing we can do is to build the changes in our individual lives, because when more people change from their behavior and eventually affects more people and this makes real change in the environment”, she said.
She said that single use of plastics is not only bottles as more people think but also plates and cups. She showed and talked about different alternatives they can use to change their plastic use like how they can use bottle glass instead of using plastic bottles.
Dr Salamatu Fada from JAVS Environmental Care Ltd congratulated Kigali for being one of the cleanest country in Africa. “I wanted to say congratulation to Kigali, because I am a Nigerian originally and I have travelled widely in Africa but this is the cleanest country that have come across”, she said.
She also thanked everybody who attended the event, “I want to congratulate everybody that came out today because it shows that they are still willing to keep environmental sanitation and preservation”, she said.
She concluded saying that they are still room to do more active to preserve the environment and to remove plastic from the environment as much as possible.
The Executive Secretary of Kanombe Sector, Idrissa NKURUNZIZA, expressed gratitude towards everyone who participated in the event, especially the guests. He stated, “As they elaborated on the impacts of plastic, let us extend our thanks to everyone who organized this event and continue to clean up all the plastics for the preservation of the environment.”