The minister for environment and natural resources from Guyana, Robert M. Persaud, is on a working visit in Rwanda to explore possibilities of cooperation between the two countries.
The visit which was organised by the UN in Guyana in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda, aims at exchanging knowledge and experiences related to public policies for environmental management, information and communication technology for development, and protected areas.
Persaud who visited coopérative pour la conservation de le’environnment (COOCEN) and Company for Environmental Protection and Development (COPED), both waste management projects in Kigali, was impressed by the way garbage can be put to use.
“I am impressed by the projects...how they convert waste into useful products and create jobs and opportunities for the local people as well as manage the environment,” he said. “We are here to seek advice and also learn how they do it such that we can also apply this knowledge back home.”
Persaud told the media that Guyana is a very small country in South America but has an acute waste management problem hence the need to draw lessons from Rwanda on how they can address this issue back home.
Problems in Guyana’s solid waste management sector include unclear and overlapping responsibilities within key agencies, an inadequate level of public awareness, the absence of systematic waste minimisation or recycling efforts, and a weak legislative and regulatory framework.
Impact of poor disposal
As a result, in several neighbourhoods waste is not collected, forcing residents to burn, bury, or dump it along roadsides and in drainage channels.
Over the years, the impact of improper solid waste management has become a critical environmental problem in Georgetown, the capital and largest city of Guyana as well as all over the country.
The negative impact of improper waste disposal was heavily felt during the January 2005 floods when waste-filled channels did not drain as rapidly as expected.
Rwanda has made some strides in waste management through community work and also massive sensitisation of the public on waste disposal.
Polly Buregeya, the chief executive officer COPED, said they advocate for waste separation which makes it easy for recycling.
In order to help their customers separate the waste, COPED provides them with bags of different colours, made from ecoplastic recycled products: green for organic waste, yellow for paper, black for non-recyclable, blue for recyclable and red for hazardous waste.