In the past, Windhoek boasted the status of being at the top of the list of the cleanest cities in Africa. That accolade made some of us very proud of our country upon being complimented by a visitor to our city.
During my fresher year at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, one of the elective modules I enjoyed covered four topics, namely: municipal by-laws, littering, beautification and sources of income for municipalities as part of the public management course.
It was an introduction to the functions and roles of town/city councils and the disciplines that govern local authorities. Among these four topics, one of them caught my full attention – that is, the beautification of the city/town.
Years later, I was very impressed to discover that Scotland, in one of its structures, has a manager position for beautification – a powerful position, responsible for keeping the environment not only clean but also attractive to promote tourism.
In Namibia, I deem this position to be equivalent to either managers of parks and gardens or managers of tourism or along those lines. If this position and its functions are taken seriously, it will indeed ensure Windhoek and Namibia as a whole regain the reputation of being among the cleanest cities/countries in Africa, or have we completely given up on this status?
It is quite disturbing to see, for instance, a person tossing rubbish to the ground or throwing it from a moving vehicle without any sign of guilt or, worse still, with no recognition whatsoever that what he/she is doing is completely wrong. Having observed this sort of behaviours on many occasions, I have come to the conclusion that ignorance is a crime of the highest order and that it needs to be condemned at all costs. I am assertive that it is not too late to reinforce rigorous awareness campaigns about environmental cleanliness in all the cities and towns, and the country in its entirety. Moreover, good hygiene practices need to be instilled in all of us at an early age.
Going back to Scotland, as a good example of ensuring the cleanest environment and beautifying the city, they have established a charity organisation called Keep Scotland Beautiful, which runs campaigns to educate people on how to take better care of the environment. The organisation runs yearly competitions and awards to maintain the momentum of keeping the country clean. These competitions and awards are techniques of recognising the effort being made by communities, local authorities and businesses across Scotland to ensure local spaces are kept clean, green and beautiful.
It is amazing to see how earnestly the citizens of Scotland take this initiative. I am sure that if the inhabitants of Namibia emulated Scotland and many other countries that keep their spaces clean, introducing such concepts into their communities and sensitising local authorities to take part, it would indeed yield good results.
In order to ensure Namibia and its cities/towns are clean, it is best if all citizens play their part, i.e. clean their surroundings, educate the next person about hygiene and cleanliness, as well as take part in the activities on National Clean-up Day, among other awareness campaigns.
*Sarah Iyaloo Negumbo is an Information Management Specialist.