An ethical assessment of waste management at the Great East Road Campus of the University of Zambia
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The aim of this study was an ethical assessment of waste management on the Great East Road campus of the University of Zambia and to assess if there was a formal waste management strategy on the campus to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the campus holistic ecosystem. The objectives of the study were: 1) To investigate the situation regarding guidelines or policies on waste management at the University of Zambia; 2) To describe the situation regarding the management of waste on the Great East Road campus of the University of Zambia; and 3) To investigate the attitudes of members of staff, students, and other stakeholders towards waste management on the Great East Road campus of the University of Zambia. The significance of the study was to ascertain the actual situation regarding waste management on the University of Zambia Great East Road campus and to sensitise administration, staff and students to their involvement in such management by taking greater ownership of the campus conditions. This was a case study design and the methodology used was qualitative involving an ethical evaluation. The methods involved primary and secondary sources. The primary data involved observations, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with selected stakeholders such as students, residents, administrators, technicians, cleaners and some officials from the waste collector, Lusaka City Council (LCC) and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) (formerly Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ)). The secondary data involved information on relevant literature from appropriate books, journals, internet and newspapers. Observations were carried out by the researcher by moving around the boundaries of the UNZA campus. The purposive sampling method was employed in coming up with the sample of 116 participants (68 male / 48 female) for in-depth interviews. Convenience sampling was used to select participants in the 10 FGDs. An ethical evaluation was made by applying the Land Ethic, Environmental Virtue Ethics, the Ethics of Care, and the Tragedy of the Commons. The research findings highlighted many problems related to a lack of adequate waste management that contribute to untidy, unhealthy and unacceptable conditions on the UNZA campus. These arise from unhealthy practices by some departments and schools, from shortcomings in the UNZA administration, from failure to attend to the drainage system and other issues related to the Resident Engineer’s Department, and to lack of adequate personal responsibility on the part of both students and staff. Ultimately, however, the accumulation of problems all pointed to the lack of an official policy or guidelines with more explicit emphasis on the central importance of effective waste management for the health of residents and the wellbeing of the natural environment. With reference to the research questions, the study concluded: 1) There is no official policy or guidelines in existence on waste management on the UNZA campus; 2) Solid waste is collected from various locations on the UNZA campus, transported to three designed waste dumpsites for onward transmission to the LCC landfill facility off campus; and 3) There is a general failure on the part of both students and staff to take personal responsibility for waste management. The ethical evaluation concluded that despite some positives, the practice of waste management on the UNZA campus is by no means satisfactory and that there is a critical need for a recognised formal policy to be established. Consequently, it is urgently recommended that the UNZA administration should formulate a formal waste management policy or guidelines. Furthermore, all the stakeholders should participate in the prioritising of waste management on the University of Zambia campus.