After the success of the DFID funded Waste to Wealth pilot in Makeni, Sierra Leone, Living Earth Foundation received support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to continue to support 5 waste enterprises, and to set up Sierra Leone’s first recycling centre.
Over the past 5 months, we have worked with waste enterprises to set up a simple sheltered workspace where they can produce their products and store their equipment safely. They have registered as formal enterprises, received additional business development training, and have produced business plans to help grow their enterprises. The project has also provided them with a tricycle to aid waste collection, meaning they are able to support the council’s waste management efforts, whilst collecting materials for their businesses.
We were also able to provide some support to the enterprises to ensure they are aware of the risk from Ebola, especially when handling waste. We commissioned a large signboard detailing the dangers of handling contaminated waste, and steps to stay safe. We also procured safety equipment, including additional gloves, face masks and chlorine for the centre, ensuring that people are aware of the potential risks, and take measures to prevent infection. Projects that support enterprise development are vital for Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis, as the economic downturn is making it harder to make ends meet for many of the poorest families. Waste to wealth activities have helped protect families against such problems, as they do not rely on imported goods, and make use of materials that are readily available at low cost.
It’s early days but we have already started to see tangible business growth in several enterprises. The Plastic Paving Enterprise (PPE) has completed several demonstration sites, including the recycling centre, and the Briquette Making Enterprise (BME) received it’s first order of 30 tonnes of carbonized briquettes for a DFID funded market trial.
This project has opened up the waste sector as an emerging market in Sierra Leone, and has shown how simple innovations in waste management can provide secure livelihoods for thousands of Sierra Leonean’s in a highly unstable economy.
We will continue to work with UNDP and Makeni City Council to ensure that there is cooperation between the waste management department and the recycling centre, and we hope to broker a formal partnership in early 2015.