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Disposable diapers create environmental hazard in Zimbabwe

By Taurai Emmanuel Maforo
Aug. 26, 2016 | MUREWA, Zimbabwe (UMNS)

253-waste-management-1-578x388An item meant to offer convenience to new parents has turned into an environmental headache in Zimbabwe.

As people have adopted the use of diapers as an alternative to napkins, or cloth diapers, used diapers have become an eye sore and environmental hazard in the country’s urban centers and areas nearby cities, according to Africa University professor Zanele Furusa.

“Zimbabwe is not yet ready for the use and disposal of diapers,” she said, noting the country’s lack of incinerators.

Furusa, a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and wife of Africa University Vice Chancellor Munashe Furusa, spoke to more than 20,000 women in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area at their annual Ruwadzano Rwe Wadzimai conventions, large camp meeting revivals held over two weekends earlier this month. She told them that disposal diapers are a convenience, but also a major cause of pollution in both urban and some rural areas.

“For the time being, we need to explore alternatives, such as going back to using napkins, until such a time we are able to dispose (of) them with no further damage to the environment.”

She challenged institutions to use ingenuity to come up with contextualized technologies in the area of waste management and sustainability.

“In my back yard in Mutare, I woke up to some shocking development, as neighbors were piling up these diapers behind my perimeter wall … Water was flowing to where the piling garbage was, leading downstream,” Furusa said.

The problem of uncollected refuse in most of the country’s urban centers is contributing to the accelerated degradation of the environment.

“Rural communities at the peripheries of city centers are at the receiving end due to the polluted rivers…,” she said, referring to ongoing studies.

Proposed interventions
Furusa implored the church as citizens and stewards to take full responsibility for waste management in their own back yards.

“In the Book of Genesis, God gave dominion to humanity … yet we the custodians continue unabated to defile the land God blessed us with…,” she said.

Garbage piling up at dumps is stripping away Mutare’s beauty and splendour, she said, bemoaning the status quo where people live in clean houses but are not mindful of dirty surroundings.

“Acknowledgement of the environmental crisis is the starting point towards the building blocks for a habitable planet,” Furusa said.

She called on individuals present at the conventions to share the vision for a cleaner environment.

“This presentation is in line with our desire as an organization to be at par with the sustainable development goals…,” said Greater Nhiwatiwa, president of Ruwadzano Rwe Wadzimai, “and having such presentations during our annual conventions is of great importance.”

Pastors also were called upon to work with church leadership to promote the “teach one to reach one” campaign, an advocacy program in which individuals and communities influence each other to make a difference for the environment.

“Advocacy for our communities and beyond through the ‘teach one to reach one’ initiative will be a viable tool for intervention,” Furusa said.

Sorting trash at the source, processing waste correctly and adopting the idea of “reduce, reuse, recycle” also are good starting points, she said.

“We need our own communities to come up with home-grown initiatives for our God-given niches so as to make sure every community is covered.”

Africa University clean-up campaign
Through its initiatives, Africa University has managed to implement waste management on campus and beyond.

Five roadside drum refuse bins were placed along the roads that flank Africa University. In addition, staff and students participated in clean-up campaigns in collaboration with City of Mutare leadership and residents, local high schools, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Mutare, police and several environmental groups.

Fifteen additional bins were made in collaboration with Mutare Board and Doors, a local company supporting the initiative. Four were donated to United Methodist Church headquarters at the women’s annual conference and the other 11 have been planted on campus.

Maforo is a pastor and communicator in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5472.

Zimbabwe churches find cash alternatives for giving

By Priscilla Muzerengwa
July 19, 2016 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)

zimbabwe-cash-crisis-517x388Churches in Zimbabwe are making an effort to open easy means of giving using technology.

Church members can now give offerings, tithes and harvest giving using credit cards and mobile money transfer.

Zimbabwe is experiencing cash shortages forcing banks to limit cash withdrawals, some to as little as U.S. $50 per day. People are queuing for long hours to withdraw cash, and often failing to get it from their banks despite the wait.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is advocating for greater use of plastic money, with the intention of ensuring that 80 percent of monetary transactions are done using cards or electronic transfers.

Solomon Chiripasi, treasurer for the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church, noted that the church is adapting to the fast-moving changes in the banking sector.

“Churches are announcing their bank account numbers so that members can do electronic transfers to the church account,” Chiripasi said. “Some have acquired point-of-sale machines so that members can swipe offerings, tithes, harvest and any other money they want to give to church.” Harvest giving in July is a special time of giving in Zimbabwe to celebrate the harvest. In rural areas, farmers might bring in produce or livestock for their giving.

Use of technology in church already was becoming popular as church members access hymns and Bible verses on tablets and phones. The church is being proactive on the current financial developments of giving, taking this as an engagement solution coming to facilitate healthy church growth in the digital age.

No longer waiting for Sunday
Congregates no longer wait for the Sunday service to give to the church. Giving is becoming an everyday activity whenever the need to give is placed on one’s heart. This has opened another door of instant thanksgiving and prayer request through giving.

As the Rev. Gift Machinga, conference board of discipleship chairperson, pointed out, “People can now pay their tithes anytime from anyway even if they are not at church physically.”

Members are now giving offerings for a Sunday service they did not attend. “Whenever they encounter God’s grace in their life and feel they should thank the Lord the door is now open to act instantly before the devil snatches the spirit of giving impressed on one’s soul,” Machinga said.

Simon Mafunda, the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference lay leader, projected an increase in offerings as people can now give anytime from anywhere.

The use of such platforms brings about transparency as it leaves an audit trail on the system that is verifiable. “Churches will have better security for their money and treasurers will sleep worry free,” said Mafunda.

Plastic money
Plastic money refers to the hard plastic cards used in place of actual bank notes. They can come in many different forms, such as cash cards, credit cards, debit cards, pre-paid cash cards and cards issued by various merchants in loyalty programmes. This card gives the holder the power to electronically transfer money to and from their bank accounts, without the use of hard currency.

Mobile banking is a service provided by a bank or financial institution that allows its customers to conduct a range of financial transactions remotely using a mobile phone without the need for internet connection. The services range from monitoring account balances, transferring funds between accounts, bill payment, airtime purchase and locating an ATM.

All of these electronic banking platforms lessen reliance on cash for day-to-day transactions, thereby bringing convenience and less risk of carrying cash or being confined by banking hours and locations.

Muzerengwa is a communicator for the Zimbabwe East Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5470.

Church partners with Zimbabwean army on educational facility

Taurai Emmanuel Maforo
Aug. 19, 2016 | NYADIRE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)

chiwengaIn its quest for providing quality education, The United Methodist Church has partnered with the Zimbabwe National Army to build a state-of-the-art facility for training early childhood development (ECD) teachers at Nyadire Teachers’ College in the Mutoko-Mudzi District.

Nyadire Teachers’ College has been training teachers for the country since 1947.

The ECD Complex idea emanated from government policy demanding the recruiting of more trainee teachers in the specialized field of child education at Nyadire Teachers’ College. In order to implement the policy, Rosemary Nyarugwe, the college’s principal, stressed the need to design and construct the new infrastructure.

The complex houses 10 staff offices, a boardroom, two lecture rooms, a 330-capacity lecture theater, observation room, display room, workshop and computer lab. The project commenced in February 2013 and was completed in June of this year.

The infrastructure was jointly commissioned Aug. 2 by Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa and Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Nyarugwe said The ECD Complex project, the first of its kind in the region, was built at a cost of $656,861 for materials and labor. The Zimbabwe National Army provided specialist services — work by bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and technical and consulting groups — at no cost.

Though the Nyadire Teachers’ College partner project is a first of its kind, Chiwenga said the army shares a long history of working together with the church.

“We were together with the church in the trenches during the liberation struggle, and we continue to fight side by side — not against the oppressor, but illiteracy,” he said.

Chiwenga expressed appreciation of the church’s efforts in providing quality education in both pre- and post-independent Zimbabwe. He described education as a critical component of equipping the nation’s young minds.

“Educated communities are empowered communities,” he said, adding that the army is prepared to work with The United Methodist Church in future development of educational institutions and community-related projects. “This (project) can aptly be described as a public-private partnership, and the completion of this block is our contribution in a small way as a national defense force.”

“This historical partnership is in the spirit of Chabadza,” said Nhiwatiwa. “Chabadza is an African way of helping each other. The uniqueness of Chabadza is that one is assisted while they are already in the fields doing something, hence the renowned success of this philosophy in our church.”

Through Chabadza, the Zimbabwe church has created several partnerships in the wider United Methodist connection. One such partnership is The Nyadire Connection, which continues to work together with one of the church’s oldest mission centers in Nyadire.

In order for such initiatives to continue, Chiwenga implored the communities to rally in the spirit of unity and Chabadza. He also called on the corporate world to come forward and support such initiatives.

The construction of the project has ushered in benefits to the college and surrounding communities.

“The construction of this center will consequently increase enrollment of early childhood development teachers, hence contributing to the building blocks of the country’s literacy, which currently stands us out as the highest in Africa,” said Serina Daphne Zivanayi, acting director of tertiary education programs in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.

“Lectures for ECD courses will be conducted with ease due to the available space. Through the use of the observation room and computer laboratory, our lecturers and students will be able to do child study and come up with Zimbabwean theories of child development,” Nyarugwe said.

Neighboring schools also will benefit as they will use the facilities and receive teachers trained under such specialized conditions.

As a community initiative, the army also trained 10 bricklayers, who were awarded certificates and Class 3 Journeyman cards. The bricklayers were part of the general laborers that were drawn from the community and participated in the construction.

Nyarugwe said she appreciated the army’s leadership for its positive response.

“The response of the army exceeded our expectations,” she added. “The team of artisans who worked with us during the construction stages displayed high degrees of commitment, hard work, accuracy, discipline, friendliness, and they fitted very well in our Christian environment.”

Maforo is a pastor and communicator in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.

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