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Illegal E-Waste Disposal Along Mukuvisi River An Ecology Disaster

Rummaging through his makeshift workshop Collins Tembo a self-styled electronics technician in Harare’s high density suburb of Mbare goes through a heap of radio, television and computer remnants to make way for a client to take a seat in the improvised structure.

The remnants await disposal at an illegal landfill across the Mukuvisi River where corporates and individuals dump waste without probity and regrets.

Despite the presence of private companies providing free services for e-waste collection the self-proclaimed technician finds it time consuming to dispose his waste.

“Given that most corporates and individuals are disposing their waste at open spaces in the light industrial areas of Graniteside along Mukuvisi River and the lack of proper provision of waste collection services from council leaves me with no option but to take the illegitimate route,” said Tembo

During the rainy season, the rubbish is washed away from illegal dump site into the river leaving a huge impact on biodiversity and human beings.

Environmental activist, Charles Nyamande said pollution of the river has a bearing on biodiversity and children who play along the river.

“The river is being polluted by effluent from the industry and of late illegal landfills that have been created are making it difficult to protect the river. The challenge is there is lack of recycling infrastructure where the waste is managed at a municipality disposal facility.

“Another challenge is that some of the people dispose the waste and burn it, some of the materials burnt includes electronic waste which emits gases into the residential area of Mbare forcing residents to breathe such gases,” said Nyamande

Studies done in the past by the University of Zimbabwe’s department of biological sciences have shown that Mukuvisi water contains toxins that cause cancer and damage to male reproductive organs.

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A research done by Environmental Science expert Dr. Benjamin Mandevere in December 2021 indicated that Zimbabwe’s environment is threatened by e-waste.

“The proliferation of various developmental revolutions raise questions on the future state of the environment the world over. The world has been reduced to a small village due to the electronic revolution. This has resulted in e-waste problems worldwide with developing countries being hard heat as their e-waste management abilities and strategies are primitive.  Zimbabwe has not been spared. In Harare, Zimbabwe sustainable development is however threatened by e-waste which is proving to be a formidable form of waste.

“Basically, the levels of e-waste related toxins in different areas in Harare is not known, yet this is important in the management of e-waste as knowledge of these will point to areas requiring imminent attention. Soils and water testing from various areas and sources of water around Harare such as dump sites, rivers, boreholes, wells and streams passing through Harare and major sources of water for Harare such as Lack Chivero, were undertaken. This brought to light levels of e-waste pollution and ultimately help in critically discussing available management strategies for e-waste in Harare. The research also involved assessing the sources of e-waste such as electric goods shops and industries, as well as individuals and households, to make inferences as to the potential amount of e-waste, the associated dangers, as well as their extent and distribution in Harare,” noted Dr. Mandevere

He added “It is however critical to note that, because there are no measures to handle e-waste in Harare possibilities are that the levels of pollution will increase with time exposing people to heavy metals as evidence already shows the presents of heavy metals in soil and water.

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“Furthermore, as at the current moment Harare has no landfill, but only dumpsites whose waste is haphazardly dumped irrespective of toxicity levels thus polluting nearby sources of water and soils not to mention Harare city water supply sources such as public boreholes and Lake Chivero. Zimbabwe has no e-waste management legislation as it is currently covered just as a hazardous substance by the Environmental Management Act (EMA) Chapter20:27.”

Dr Mandevere recommended that there should be legislation that specifically deals with e-waste management.

“The environmental management departments and government entities dealing with waste management should ensure that a law dealing with specifically e-waste management is put in place as evidence is inevitably clear that the electronic revolution is growing exponentially not only in Zimbabwe but across the globe, thus there is also need for an e-waste legislation that controls its management, controls movement of e-goods from and into the country as well as disposal and certification of recycling as well as any other players into e-waste management.

“There is also need to ensure that imported electronic products are professionally monitored to reduce if not avoid dumping of e-waste. Responsible authorities should be capacitated to ensure that e-waste is well managed now when its effects are still budding than to wait until it becomes overwhelming to entities. Setting up of recycling and reusing commercial-industrial entities which use electronic waste is an effective strategy since the supply of the e-waste would be met by the demand considering that there are millions of tonnes of absolute electronic goods that are still kept in both government offices as well as individual households. There is also need to have proper e-waste dumpsites.” Dr. Mandevere said

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