Plastic pollution is a global crisis, with animals, plants, and human life being affected by waste mismanagement.
A report from the UNDP Lesotho states that in Maseru alone, around 105,000 tonnes of waste is being generated per year. In Lesotho, 69% of all waste that finds its way into streams, rivers and eventually the ocean, is plastic. Plastic bags and bottles in particular are the main source of pollution in Lesotho. Littering and illegal dumping on the ground and in water sources is affecting and causing harm to the environment for all living things.
This World Environment Day, ReNOKA joins the movement to #BeatPlasticPollution and curb the plastic pollution problem that the country faces.
A study conducted by the Central University of Technology in the Free State showed that the main cause of dumping and litter in areas such as Botha-Bothe, Hlotse, Maputsoe, Berea and Maseru, is the lack of waste collection services. The study recommended that the dumpsites need to be upgraded and properly managed since it was also discovered that the studied disposal sites do not meet the minimum requirements for dumpsites or landfills. Risk management, safety protocols as well as increased public awareness need to be put in place to further minimise the impact of waste on health and the environment.
In Lesotho’s lowlands, there is a direct correlation between human health issues and waste mismanagement. The burning of waste and backyard burying had been identified as a contributor to gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses.
However, through local initiatives with different partners, Lesotho is taking steady action to reduce plastic waste. ‘Plastic-free Wednesday’ was launched in 2021 between UNDP and retail stores like Pick n’ Pay, PEP and Shoprite and has created awareness amongst shoppers to reuse their shopping bags, while the ‘Cleanest Town Competition’ launched in 2022 created a sense of local pride amongst rural communities aiming to live in cleaner, healthier environments. The government has also dedicated the final Friday of each month to the cleaning campaign “Operation Hloekisa Lesotho”
Another notable initiative is that of Pheha Plastic. Founded by Limpho Thoahlane in 2019, Pheha Plastic is a non-profit recycling company and environmental awareness centre. Limpho and her team recycle plastic waste by shaping it into products like floor tiles that are sold at retail stores. Their aim is to become a major player in plastic waste management for a greener Lesotho, while educating and inspiring communities into repurposing plastic into tradeable commodities.
In the same way that one can repurpose plastic, one can help curb the spread of plastic waste by following a few simple principles:
- Reduce: cut the amount of plastic you use by switching to hemp, paper and glass products. You can also reduce the amount of plastic that you throw away by following the next step.
- Reuse: by using plastic products like bags & bottles more than once, you are cutting down the amount of plastic waste that can find its way into streams, rivers and eventually the ocean. But it is not just marine life that is affected, because when you …
- Recycle: You protect the environment from harmful pollutants. Some plastics can take around 500 years to decompose on the ground, and in that time may cause harmful chemicals to get into the soil. The same soil where crops grow, cattle graze and people eat from is now becoming polluted due to plastic.
As evident, plastic pollution affects the overall eco-system where people, animals and plants live. How much the planet suffers will affect future generations.
The impact of plastic pollution includes compromised state of the soil which has an effect on the quality of crops and grasses that grow in that area. Plastic that finds itself in bodies of water affects marine life and in Lesotho, our famous trout supply. By our water sources being depleted, our precious White Gold may soon not flow so freely.
Join ReNOKA on June 5th in celebrating World Environment Day. Do your bit in curbing the harmful effects of plastic waste by examining your habits towards plastic and cleaning up the environment around you. Just one small action from each citizen in Lesotho means that together we can make our Kingdom’s rolling hills and flowing water flourish once more.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to revitalise Lesotho’s land and water resources together!
For more ideas on how to help the environment, watch this video.
Together, Lesotho, we can #BeatPlasticPollution. Together, #WeAreARiver.
ReNOKA (‘we are a river’) is a national programme and citizen movement for the restoration of land and water in Lesotho and the Orange-Senqu basin. Support for ReNOKA is provided through a partnership between the Government of Lesotho, the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The EU and BMZ contributions are implemented through a technical assistance project “Support to Integrated Catchment Management in Lesotho” by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
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National ICM Coordinator, ICM Coordination Unit
GIZ Programme Manager, Support to Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) in Lesotho
‘This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Integrated Catchment Management unit and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)’