In the most populous landlocked country on the world’s fastest-urbanizing continent, it’s a normal sight to see growing piles of waste lining the Ethiopian capital’s streets. Environmental impact aside, refuse build-up is a hotbed for the cultivation and spread of disease. While local government forces struggle to keep up with the increasing waste problem exacerbated by an exploding population, one organization has stepped up to provide a sustainable solution.
ChildFund Ethiopia focuses, among other issues, on water and sanitation (Sustainable Development Goal 6) in Addis Ababa; specifically, effective sanitation services. It tackles the problem by aiming to engage unemployed urban dwellers—many newly relocated from rural areas— in a larger-scale project to improve sanitary conditions in the city through a robust system of recycling.
Recycling what? Solid waste and plastic bottles, in particular. The organization’s holistic approach to the issue connects government officials, project participants, local business owners, and other stakeholders in the most heavily affected areas through a series of workshops, training sessions, and consultations. One of the more impactful workshops brings together program participants working on recycling and local vendors that distribute bottled water. Recognizing both the economic and waste reduction considerations, ChildFund helps the program-participants forge partnerships with the local vendors that are beneficial for both; the vendors gain access to additional funds by providing the bottles (which would otherwise go in the landfill) to be recycled by the program-participants.
ChildFund’s waste management program in Addis targets principally female participants, addressing gender equality issues in the region (Sustainable Development Goal 5). Programs such as these greatly expand opportunities for women to become financially independent in spite of the region lacking options for steady employment.
Such local initiatives are an important part of the grassroots-level actions which must take place to achieve global sustainability. ChildFund’s multi-faceted approach has an impact on key global issues while addressing the needs of the immediate community, and in doing so it sets an example that could be replicated around the world.
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