Malawi, a small country in Africa, has a population of over 18 million. According to World Bank estimates, Malawi had 52.2% of the total population between 15 and 64 years as of the beginning of 2017. However, Malawi has a high level of unemployment among the productive population which is largely composed of young people.
Like all fast urbanizing cities in the world, cities in Malawi – namely Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu – are challenged by the accumulation of waste due to the increase of their urban population (migration in search of employment) and the limited resources of their public services. On average, these cities produce a high amount of solid waste, of which a very small percentage is processed or treated. For instance, Blantyre city produces 300 tons of waste per day, of which only 28% are collected by the municipality.
According to the sanitary director at Blantyre City Council (BCC), the council is struggling with its budget to offer appropriate waste management services. Consequently, city residents and companies illegally dump waste in inappropriate places or burn them, thus potentially creating harmful smokes. This background shows that investing in waste management could create and increase the job opportunities among the youth in Malawi.
Establishment of solid waste collection companies
Youths should establish companies with financial assistance (loans) from the government or development partners to provide solid waste collection services in cities and districts. These companies would be providing the collection services (transportation to dump or processing site) against a fee which would be paid directly by the city residents, companies or by the city councils for a specific area.
However, there would be a need to train the youths on how to collect and handle the waste in a safe way, and on how to run such companies. Furthermore, the government should also increase funding towards sanitation services. The responsibility of the councils would be to oversee the works which will be done by these companies.
For instance, Blantyre city has about 55 townships and if every township has one waste collection company (depending on the size of the area) and assuming there are 12 people on average per company, which will approximately equal to the employment of 660 youths. Considering the remaining three cities and 28 districts, clearly more youths would be employed.
Establishing waste processing and disposal companies
The government should encourage or set deliberate policies that would allow private investors to establish waste re-processing and disposal companies. This would ensure that the collected waste would be processed and recycled rather than just dumped, as is the case now, thus creating jobs opportunities for the youths.
Investing in waste management would not only create job opportunities to the youths in Malawi but also protect the environment and the health of the population.