Case study: Clean and Beautiful Swaziland campaign

Irma Allen

e-learning centre on sustainable development


Clean and Beautiful Swaziland Campaign

from Dr. Irma Allen

For the Clean and Beautiful Swaziland Campaign, the objectives were to raise environmental awareness, specifically to littering and pollution; to harness private and public sector resources to clean up; to promote recycling and regulation enforcement; to encourage plans for disposal, control and beautification; and to educate the public to cooperate with waste disposal services. The participants included the National Environmental Education Program, NGOs, Government representatives, etc. (about 40 organizations and individuals responded). Campaign sub-committees were established for: Education, Leaders/decision-makers, NGOs, Recycling, Media and Health. The activities of the campaign included school competitions (essays, art); cleanups; adoption of roadsides; brochures, pamphlets, radio programs, and newspaper articles; work with bus owners to stop littering in buses; market activities; recycling activities; advocacy (e.g. workshop for parliamentarians); a network (e.g. Institute of Waste Management, South Africa); a Clean Up the World Day (week); and investigation. Each group (market women, teachers, Boy Scouts, etc.) went back and catalyzed their own organizations. The constraints in the programme were: limited resources, indefinite membership, unplanned events, a lack of cooperation in some cases, learning "on the job", and being totally dependent on volunteers. The achievements included adoption of an anti-litter policy and legislation, creation of landfills in the country, turning the Mbabane river from a rubbish dump to a green area in the city, initiating recycling, bringing recognition to the participants, and getting people to see that waste is everybody’s business. The project was to be one year, and is now ongoing.

Dr. Irma Allen started the project because something had to be done. It just happened. Letters were sent out under the letterhead of the NEEP, but it could have been under the “NGO” letterhead of the national or local Baha'i council. In between meetings, the activities depended on how much time people had. For example, wives of diplomats stopped sitting around being bored and started lobbying for environmental legislation. If you don’t have a constitution, a budget, etc. you have more flexibility. It is good for Bahá’ís, who are non-political, to participate in this type of activity. As one participant pointed out, there is money in waste. The project started recycling tins, working with the Coca-Cola company, which gave points for bags of tins, which could be redeemed in some stores for school supplies. No money was handled, partly to avoid corruption. Some women’s groups became occupied in gathering tins in peri-urban areas, making a meager living by recycling tins. There is a paper mill now, so some schools are gathering paper. Factors in the success of the project included that it met a real need, had the support of the authorities and of the media, promoted real networking, used existing resources and infrastructure, and cut across different sectors.

Reported by Dr. Irma Allen at the 4th Conference of the International Environment Forum

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Last updated 23 May 2006