A CITW Malawi Special Project – Investigating the Impact of Factories on the Environment

The CITW Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) programme is a product of the CITW Eco-Club programme. YES members are those youth who were Eco-Club members from between one and up to 15 years ago (i.e. dating back to 2004). These youth range from those who have just graduated from Eco-Clubs (at primary school level), and now are in secondary school, to those who have moved on to tertiary education, and those who have graduated from tertiary education and are working. There are also those youth who did not go any further with school, who are based in their local villages and are keen members of the YES programme. They form the base that enables continued activation of the programme, as they meet weekly or twice a month. Those in schools and jobs join the community-based groups whenever they are on holiday, and when there are big events which need them all to come together.

YES programme activities include advanced levels of topics they learned in their Eco-Clubs: environmental issues are critically examined, the causes of issues are identified and reported to the appropriate officers. In other cases, the YES youth themselves develop projects in line with identified environmental issues.

During the 2018 December YES camp, among other topics covered, the youth discussed a number of issues around the environment, including how manufacturing industries observe environmental conservation standards. They developed objectives and planned for educational trips to some of the manufacturing industries they had noted.

A Trip to Vizala Rubber Factory

After an educational tour starting in the rubber tree forest and moving on to the factory, the youth sought an interview with the factory managers in order to learn about how they manage their environmental issues. The youth learned about how chemicals and rubber are safely handled, from the forest to the final products. They youth also learned about how staff safety is observed around the company.

Their trip to Vizala Rubber factory had the following objectives:

  • To learn about rubber forestry.
  • To learn about rubber processing.
  • To learn how chemicals used in the rubber tree forest and in the factory are managed.
  • To learn about the social impact of the rubber factory.
  • To learn about long-term plans for the rubber industry in the area.

A Trip to Illovo Dwangwa Sugar Factory

Another environmental educational trip took YES youth to the Illovo Dwangwa sugar factory. Here, the youth were taken into the sugarcane plantations, then to the factory, and finally to a discussion forum.

Their objectives for the Dwangwa trip included:

  • To learn about sugar cane fields as ecosystems in the area (what wildlife is found in the fields, and the ecosystem balance therein).
  • To learn about how large-scale burning of sugar cane fields works in line with controlling carbon emissions.
  • To learn about how chemicals applied in the sugarcane fields are handled outside the fields, as they are not far from Lake Malawi.
  • To learn about how sugar is processed and how the by-products and waste are managed.
  • To learn about the potential and capabilities of the factory to produce ethanol fuel.
  • To learn about the impact of the sugar factory on the surrounding communities.

What the youth learnt from both educational trips will help them to have a better understanding of, as well as to generate suggestions for, ways to improve environmental conservation strategies for the manufacturing industries and surrounding communities.

Their findings will also be part of the discussions with their fellow YES youth during this year’s December YES Camp. If comments or feedback to the factories are necessary, they will craft their observations and suggestions in writing, and send them to the factory managers.

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