Sharleen Mohammed : Correspondent
Mbare Musika used to have a dark allure, being the gateway into and out of Harare and a classic melting pot. It was so popular, that people would brag that anyone who has not been to Mbare Musika has not seen Harare yet. Bus loaders, touts, cart pushers, travellers and vendors selling different wares to make a living were a permanent feature as they loitered around the main bus terminal daily and sometimes late into the night trying to eke a living.
But things are now different.
Mbare Musika is dying. The most popular market is filthy.
It is common to see hordes of green flies hovering over dumps of garbage especially in places such as Mbare vegetable market, Stodart area, Magaba, Matapi where children forage for toys.
This suburb is one of the several in Harare that have been constantly hit by typhoid and cholera outbreaks in the past few years.
Judging by the attitude exhibited by the generality of people in the high density area, living with the dirt and the stench has become a part of life.
Moving around Mbare, vendors sell food including sadza, drinks, buns, boiled eggs mostly near piles of garbage and raw sewage infested with huge flies (green bombers).
In the past months, Harare City Council has started work that will likely give Mbare back her identity. By embracing innovation and integrating the traditional sources of energy with green energy in the form of biogas, the city council has found a fitting way to end the uncollected refuse challenge.
In a project spearheaded by the City of Harare’s engineer Calvin Chigariro, vegetable waste from Mbare will see its way to the bio-digester located behind the Mbare Flats. This will reduce the levels of pollution in the suburb.
Upon completion the bio-gas project is expected to produce 100kva of electricity. The electricity will be connected to households and properties around the Mbare vegetable market.
Engineer Chigariro said: “By-products from the digester will include fertiliser.
“The project will not only help clean up the suburb, but will create jobs for the women and youth who will transport the garbage from the market to the bio-digesters.
“This project will reduce the city’s costs on carrying garbage to Pomona and will create a cleaner environment as residents will be enticed to sell their bio-gradable waste,” said Engineer Chigariro
In addition to the face lift of the suburb, Harare City Council will build hot shower facilities for residents and travellers and charge a fee.
Meanwhile, Energy and Power development Permanent Secretary Mr Patson Mbiriri said unlike other forms of energy, biogas is cheaper and affordable to disadvantaged communities.
“Many people are not aware of the vast potential presented by biogas technology to solve energy problems en-counted in both urban and rural communities,” he said.
Mr Mbiriri said that Zimbabwe had power challenges with hydroelectricity and thermal power generation sources failing to sustain its requirements, hence the need to embrace biogas and other renewable energy technologies.
Mr Mbiriri added that energy provision will lead to the economic empowerment of rural communities in Zimbabwe.
To add on to that, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Muzembi recently announced that the Government is considering giving incentives for players in the sector who invest in renewable energy sources for their needs.
Zimbabwe is faced with power shortages as the country is generating less than half of the required 2 200 MW due to declining water levels.
He added that it was critical that players in the tourism industry innovate rather than complain endlessly about a situation that will take time to be resolved.
Minister Mzembi said his ministry should have incentives for players who want to come up with solutions that exploit renewable energy especially solar and bio-gas.
He added that the tourism ministry would soon explore the types and levels of incentives that will be offered to companies that invest in renewable energy.
“The hotel industry must utilise solar energy mainly for its lighting requirements and bio-gas for water boiling instead of relying on supplies from the overstretched national grid,” he said.
The Mbare bio-digester is not the first in the city as the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has already constructed plants at Harare Hospital and Roosevelt Girls School.
City of Harare has plans to establish more bio-digesters in different communities depending on the success of the Mbare project and this would mean an increase in electricity generation.
Bio-digesters are increasingly popular around the world. Nigeria’s African Women and Rural Environment (AWARE) has established digester’s in different communities, benefiting the environment as well as the economic well being of over 500 rural women.
Another initiative is the Mumbai Women Bio-digester Project in India.
In Mumbai approximately 3 000 tons of organic waste is produced daily, generating a lot of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
The project has seen CoLab partner with Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS), a women’s liberation organisation that uses the Nisargruna bio-digester technology to generates biogas and high-grade fertiliser, to create jobs for women waste pickers.
These have changed lives in one of the poorest communities.