It’s been just over 6 months that I started in my role as CEO of WasteAid, and therefore high time that I shared updates and thoughts with WasteAid’s friends, donors, partners and supporters around the globe. Without your support, good will and donations we would not have been able to achieve what we have and I thank you all.
This has been a unique period in which to start in a new role. The pandemic left some of WasteAid’s projects suspended as countries enforced necessary restrictions to protect their populations. The full WasteAid team has been unable to meet and the travel restrictions have meant that I have yet to meet with WasteAid’s partners and beneficiaries face to face – praise be to Zoom! I am proud to say that our team and partners have dealt with these challenges admirably – ensuring ongoing support and adapting projects to include Covid resilience measures to protect communities. Sadly, the pandemic meant that our UKAID funded projects were placed on hold, but as I write we are on the cusp of recommencing activities in Cameroon and are almost there in The Gambia. The breathing space did give us time to review and evaluate our progress, tweaking and adapting projects to ensure the best outcomes, but we are impatient to restart activities.
That said, this has not been a quiet period for WasteAid! Our projects in Malawi, Indonesia and our Circular Economy programme activities in South Africa, Vietnam and India continued apace – albeit in a socially distanced manner. In Bali, Indonesia the lull in tourism caused by Covid has allowed our partner, ROLE, time to develop their waste collection and sorting systems and adapt infrastructure, as well as negotiate a number of waste collection contracts with the local municipality and major hotels. This means that they are all set up once the tourists return. In Malawi, our partner ICCM worked with us to conduct an extensive feasibility study into community waste management opportunities and within this period we designed a subsequent project based on our findings. We hope to start work in 2021.
Identifying needs and understanding where WasteAid can add the most value has been a major theme of my first 6 months. In many cases, we are looking to build on our success to scale up interventions, for example in The Gambia and in Cameroon. We have some exciting prospects and I hope to be able to update you shortly on new initiatives. We have also undertaken a needs assessment in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country ranked at 179/189 on the HDI. The needs there are extensive. Waste management is extremely poor and impacts terribly on both health and environment. WasteAid is working with a partner organisation, International Youth Centre in Kinshasa, with plans to focus on community waste management and opportunities for unemployed youth in the waste value chain.
WasteAid as an organisation has grown exponentially over the last 6 months. In line with our size, our ambition and the stringent requirements of our donors, our team has grown too. Some of our key recruitments include Michelle Wilson who is leading our innovative Circular Economy programme, funded by Huhtamaki, and will provide regular updates through both our newsletter and our website. Michelle has brought on a fantastic international team and we are delighted to welcome Irene Inan, Dinesh Bandela and Tram Nguyen to WasteAid. You will be hearing much more about our activities within this programme over the coming months. Angela McDermott has also come on board to oversee our programmes, their quality and impact and to develop further interventions using her deep knowledge of international development programming in Sub Saharan Africa.
I will finish this update by once again thanking all our individual supporters, special mention to Lucy Hill and family for their fantastic participation in the WasteAid Safari and Jules Haines for fundraising through her customers, and our new corporate donor Zumo. A special thank you to all our corporate partners, especially our proud partner Biffa (and their generous employees), for funds that allow WasteAid to continue to grow, develop and increase impact. We know how difficult times are for businesses, but your support is so valuable and is really making a difference.