Preceptions of Solid Waste Management and the role of environmental education among selected residents of Choma Township of Southern Zambia

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Mwiinga, Fridah
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Weaknesses in Solid Waste Management (SWM) in most urban centers have over the years been attributed to financial and administrative capacity constraints of municipalities, (Roberts, 1996). In some studies perception has been identified as one of the contributing factors (Abrokwah, 1998, Sichaaza, 2006). What was not known is whether perceptions by a cross-section of residents in Choma town regarding waste management contributed to indiscriminate dumping and the role Environmental Education (EE) could play to address SWM problems in that town. This study sought to find out Choma residents’ perceptions of solid waste management (SWM) and the role that EE in that township of southern Zambia could play in addressing the issue of accumulating waste. To achieve this aim the study used the following objectives: to determine attitudes of Choma residents towards SWM in their town; to assess Choma residents’ views regarding their role in SWM in their town; to investigate how EE could be used to improve SWM in Choma. The general research question used in the study was; what are Choma residents’ perception of SWM and the role EE could play to improve solid waste situation in the study area? Descriptive survey design was used with quantitative and qualitative research approaches. A total of 41 respondents participated in the study. Systematic and purposive sampling was used to select respondents. Interview schedule was used to collect data from 40 residents and the interview guide was used to collect data from the municipality representative. Observation methods were used to ascertain some responses from respondents. The results revealed that respondents had a negative attitude and perceptions towards SWM resulting into indiscriminate dumping. Residents’ negative attitude was as a result of education and lack of proper solid waste management services in the area. The study also revealed that residents did not have a sense of responsibility towards keeping public places clean; they did not think that their disposal habits contributed to the littering of the environment. The findings further showed that residents were not aware of their role in SWM apart from keeping their homes clean. This situation was attributed to lack of EE. The study revealed that engagement of community leaders and establishment of the baseline data for an environmental health was an important way of offering EE. On the basis of the findings it was concluded that people’s negative perceptions and lack of a proper system for waste collection negatively affected the situation in the area, and that EE was needed to help people understand their roles and effects of their careless dumping. Based on the findings, the study recommends that Choma municipality should provide waste management services and waste bins since this was perceived by most respondents to be a major hindrance in portraying good environmental behavior. It is also recommended that the council should engage community members/leaders to increase on EE providers in order to ensure effective communication and monitoring with residents.
Solid Waste Management-Southern Zambia , Sewerage-Southern Zambia , Refuse and Refuse disposal-Southern Zambia