An initiative in Gambia is empowering women and reducing hazardous waste at the same time.
The Waste Innovation Center, launched in August and initially funded by the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance, shows women in the Brikama area how to recycle waste into useful materials and products, which they can then sell in local markets, news site reported.
Wood-like waste is recycled into charcoal, for example, which can be used as an alternative to firewood and decrease deforestation. Food waste is recycled into compost to function as environmentally friendly fertilizers and plastic is turned into everything from paving slabs and gutters to local sanitary toilet holes.
Supported by Waste Aid UK and the Gambia Women’s Initiative, among others, the project provides women with skills they can use to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs. Women learning at the center come from five communities, and some of them travel as far as 12 miles to learn these skills that will provide them with an income, according to the Guardian.
Isatou Ceesay, who now leads GWI, highlighted the need to focus on economic equality in her country, telling the Guardian, “In terms of education, [women] are the ones who are always behind. Boys are chosen to go to school. When we conduct our training, we find women can do a lot, but don’t know who they are, or how to implement things.”
According to the World Health Organization’s Country Cooperation Strategy 2008-2013 report, the main environmental issue facing Gambia is poor waste management in urban areas. Ndey Sireng Bakurin, executive director of the National Environment Agency, has voiced concern of health and environmental risks, such as water contamination, the increase of insects and rodents as well as flooding that occur as a result of poor waste management.