“I have noticed that the face of the city is changing and that the issue of unsanitary conditions has become a real problem.”
President of an NGO which campaigns for the protection of nature and the environment in Guinea, Mrs. Mariama Diouldé Diallo is at the head of a project called “Dalaba clean city”. This initiative aims to restore this Guinean tourist town to its former glory. The founder of the NGO Solidarity, concerned about the accumulation of waste in the city and the lack of green spaces, decided to set up a women’s group for the sanitation and beautification of Dalaba. Global Green News spoke with her about the essence of this project.
You have decided to set up a women’s group for the sanitation and beautification of the city of Dalaba in Guinea. So in a few words, would you like to explain to us what your project really consists of and how long has it been in existence?
I would start by introducing myself: Mrs Mariama Diouldé Diallo, mother, grandmother and citizen committed to the development of the city of Dalaba. I am also president of the NGO Solidarity. I was born and raised in Dalaba and for some time now I have noticed that the face of the city is changing and that the issue of unsanitary conditions has become a real problem.
Indeed, there is a proliferation of garbage and waste all over the city, including a large presence of plastic waste caused largely by plastic water bags which are increasingly used in homes. The other finding is the increase in heat islands due to a dire lack of green spaces in the city.
For 2 years with a group of women we have therefore taken the decision to set up a citizens’ initiative to support the municipality for sanitation (collection and burning of rubbish, clearing of waste that block ditches to allow the circulation of water from rain) and beautification of the city. Passionate about flowers and green spaces as we see in other countries, I firmly believe that planting trees and flowers is a brake against global warming. We therefore integrated sanitation, the creation of green spaces and put flowers and trees on the edges of the roads.
What strategy do you use to mobilize and convince so many women to join this project ?
To mobilize and convince so many women to join this project, the strategy used in large part is awareness and communication. Through discussions, we raised awareness and demonstrated to participants the benefits for themselves and their families of having a clean and green living environment. Also, it was important for women to get involved and be ahead for the development of the city and the fight against climate change for itself but also for future generations. The other incentive to convince them is the setting up of a collective “tontine” which allows at each meeting that 6 women of the group leave with a sum of money which allows them to start an income-generating activity or to provide support for themselves or their families.
Why did you specifically target women for the realization of this project, when environmental sanitation should normally be everyone’s business?
Women are the main agents of change and they are generally the most motivated to get involved in this kind of initiative, because they are the most directly impacted by the proliferation of waste and dirt. Indeed, they are the ones who most often go to work and sell in the markets and the main arteries of the city. Women also realize that most of the garbage is left in front of houses or just on the streets and this situation can lead to diseases that will more easily affect children.
“The work is done with bare hands, women do not have adequate protective equipment”
What types of challenges do you encounter while carrying out this project?
The difficulties encountered in the field in the execution of the project are the lack of adequate equipment and material for garbage collection. In addition, the work is done with bare hands, women do not have adequate protective equipment (gloves, masks, boots, etc.) to protect themselves during work. However, the biggest problem we face is with the storage and handling of the plastic waste we collect. We are also having trouble finding a suitable place to drop off the collected waste because there is no sorting center. In the longer term, we want to create a large sorting and recycling center.
It is true that such a project also requires support in the field, do you have the support of the local authorities?
We are working closely with the municipality of Dalaba who provided us with a place for the creation of a green space. Also, we have a lot of encouragement from the citizens of the city who find the initiative very good. There is also a truck made available to us by a citizen for the transport of waste. At the moment, there is also a fundraising campaign set up to support us financially in the purchase of protective and work equipment.
“Our initiative is starting to become a model for other neighboring towns to follow”
What results have been obtained so far since you started, are they satisfactory?
The results obtained so far in the field are really satisfactory, the city is cleaner and green spaces have been created near the roads. 1000 seedlings of different flower varieties were planted. In addition, we are proud to have implemented the concept of urban agriculture which consists of planting vegetables, fruits and aromatic herbs in the city. In addition, we have planted flowers, vegetables and aromatic herbs which allow us to harvest cabbage, chives, peppers, tomatoes, salad, eggplants, etc. every week that women share.
Furthermore, I am very happy to see that awareness of the issue of cleanliness is starting to bear fruit. People are starting to be sensitive to the issue of cleanliness and are more careful not to throw garbage anywhere. Our initiative is starting to become a model for other neighboring towns to follow.
We know that sanitation and the environmental problem remain a headache for most cities in Guinea, what measures or safeguards have you taken to ensure the success of your project in the long term?
To ensure the sustainability of the project, we rely on the diversity of ages and profiles of the women participating in the project. Also, the group is structured by district with a president at the head of each district. This makes it possible to sustain human resources over the long term. Also, the tontine, which is a good financial incentive, ultimately allows us to create an income-generating activity. However, the most important safeguard is the collective awareness of the importance of having a clean city and the motivation of women to create spaces, green parks in the municipality. We would like to see more green spaces and also training on seeding and urban agriculture which is a good way to reduce pollution.
What final message do you have for our readers before concluding this interview?
A big thank you to all these courageous and dynamic women this is the first time in Dalaba that an association of women for sanitation has been created. I am very proud of all the women and of the work that we have accomplished. I am especially very happy to see their motivations and their commitments in favor of the environment and in favor of our beautiful prefecture. I hope I can continue to encourage and motivate them more because they are the agents of change, they are the ones who will make things happen, they are the ones who will work for adaptation to climate change.