One can scour the various Tanzanian Ministry websites looking for the National policy on waste management – but you will come up short.
There are a number of outdated Ministry drafts on loosely-related policies, but nothing concrete; and certainly nothing that we can see being put into practice on the ground.
The Tanzanian Government has introduced an outright ban on disposable plastic bags of a thickness between 30 and 65 microns. This ban was introduced in 2006, but we have yet to see it enforced and still well over a billion single-use plastic bags are given out for free each day. We make a joke of it here, “buy three things, get three bags” – but it’s not a joke. ...and it's not like plastic bags are the only contributor to the degradation of Tanzania’s beautifully diverse landscape – plastic bottles contribute just as much to the problem.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in Africa which relies heavily on tourism and foreign aid to fill its problematic financial, and infrastructure gaps. The irony here is that while foreign developers scurry to implement recycling programs, the tourism industry generates an incalculable amount of plastic waste.
Recycling in Tanzania is a foreign concept, and littering is the norm. Drive behind a cross-country bus and watch as empty bottles get tossed out the window; drive behind a city bus and have a ream of paper rain out the window onto your windshield.
This semester CIEE Tanzania has 11 students who are strongly advised against drinking water from taps – unless they want to go on an amoebic diet. 11 students for the duration of our program have the potential to go through at least 1,232 bottles of water.
Is bottled water the only alternative? Of course not! As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, my inner-hippie would never stand for that. This semester CIEE Tanzania has obtained water filters so that our students can have access to clean drinking water without all the plastic waste.
What about the rest of the problem? What about all of that trash that already exists? What can we do? Though not Ministry-run, there are a number of recycling projects located here in Dar es Salaam; like this one: Money for plastic?? Do I smell a self-funding CIEE environmental club at the University of Dar es Salaam?
This post was brought to you by CIEE-TZ Resident Director, Jenny Venecek