Being a digital youth climate mapper has changed the way I view my role as a young person and my ability to voice out concerns to do with our environment, as well as engaging other youths to rally behind activities that advocate against climate change. The timely opportunity of becoming a mapper came at the very moment my community was facing air pollution problems, and being able to report and share my personal experience made me feel that I was making a change. Moreover I got to learn so much about climate change and the reality of the situation on the ground through digital climate mapping training. This has also sparked an interest in me to find documentaries and publications on climate change from the rest of the world. Residents surrounding Harare’s major landfill site in the early hours of Sunday the 6th of November witnessed thick enormous clouds of smoke ascending in the sky. Harare News, an online news source confirmed the fire to have been possibly caused by combustion from the heat that is released when garbage is decomposing or arson which was the case in 2013. The argument follows that the extreme high temperature conditions the country has faced in the past weeks created the right conditions for the ignition to occur.
The incident saw residents very close to the area evacuate from their homes in fear of choking and inhaling dangerous toxins. The smoke was so intense such that visibility on Harare Drive and Alps Road was minimal. One report claimed the blaze went unabated for three days as was the case three years ago despite efforts by local authorities and the Fire Brigade’s efforts to put it out. Usually landfill fires burn towards the heart of their dumps going down, therefore control of the fire can be close to impossible to contain.
The case of Pomona Landfill is that the dump pile had a depth of 300 metres before the burn.
One can only imagine the potential effects of the gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide that have been released into the air. The short term impacts of this landfill fire can be that of aggravating pulmonary issues, respiratory distress, skin rashes and other ailments. Considering that this fire outbreak isn’t a first in Harare, the dumpsite has become a large contributor of toxins that are harmful to crops and animals in neighbouring farms near the dumpsite. It is undeniable that Pomona Landfill is always a ticking bomb if garbage is not disposed of properly with the issue of protecting the ozone layer as well as combating climate change in mind.
The Pomona Waste Dump has been facing a mismanagement crisis for many years and this caused the environmental disaster to occur. This is one of many fires that have happened in the past, and it is one of the more severe outbreaks. The garbage being disposed of at the site was not being compacted and buried in the ground to avoid fire outbreaks. Moreover, the garbage that was lit up in the fire consisted of aerosols, paints, bond paper bleached with chlorine, plastic pipes and wire covering among other flammable compounds. When released in the air,the toxic elements have both short term and long term effects which are harmful to plants, animals and human beings. Apart from chemicals leaching into ground water and surface water, the smoke also affects plant yields and animals that absorb these toxins making them harmful for consumption. Lastly residents from surrounding areas suffer from various ailments as a result of the smoke including nausea, eye irritation, headaches, respiratory conditions such as allergies and asthma and possibly in the long run, cancer.
My name is Lisa Chiedza Govera from Harare, Zimbabwe. I am a 25year old young lady who is passionate about environmental issues and finding solutions to combating environmental challenges. I hold a BA in advertising and public relations, and I commence a Masters in Corporate Social Responsibility in September 2017. My interest in environmental issues dates back to my high school years where I headed the Environmental Club at Queen Elizabeth High School from 2008-2009. I enjoy researching and writing on environmental issues that affect women and children, as they are close to my heart.