It is a common challenge among households in Zambia to locate a garbage service provider; even worse when one has just moved into a new location. People usually resort to throwing garbage at night, creating an illegal dumpsite. Additionally, there is no proper channel to report such illegal activities. On top of this, the council has been facing a lot of challenges to collect waste. Almost 50% of waste is left uncollected everyday. The council lacks digital tools and insight waste data to help them plan better and become more efficient. We were bothered about how there was no digital platform where households could have an easy interface with responsible authorities in waste management. Therefore, we thought of how we could come up with a digital platform that would allow users, recyclers, intermediates and the relevant authorities to interact effectively and efficiently to manage waste.
What it does
Our mobile application helps connect urban households and businesses to waste collectors and recycling firms in an efficient and cost effective way.
Other services will include:-
- Food Rescue – Donate your food surplus into meals for your hungry neighbours
- Marketplace – Buy eco-friendly products made from recycled waste to help save the environment
- Report Centre – Report illegal dumping, uncollected waste or sewer spillage in your area. Simply take a picture and pin location and the authorities will be informed.
- Waste sorting – Learn how to sort waste correctly and trade it for garbage collection fee discounts
- Cleaning services – Request for cleaning services for your offices or household
- Blogging feed – A platform to give citizens a voice where issues around climate change and waste management can be addresses.
- Volunteering - Donate your time and assist clean up abandoned areas in the community which can be turned into vegetable patches or playgrounds.
All these services will be aimed at creating sustainable smart cities.
How we built it
Firstly, we conducted a survey in both suburn and slams. The survey was aimed at understanding more about the critical challenges they face in waste disposal, as well as what they feel should be done to eradicate the changes around waste management. Furthermore, we tried to capture the degree to which mobile smart phone were utilised in households and how familiar they were with the internet and mobile applications. We also interrogated the intermediates such as garbage collecting companies, the municipal councils as well as end users such as the recycling companies, as to what challenges they face around waste collection and recycling. Based on the feedback, we drafted a business model that was aimed at delivering solutions for the identified challenges.
Challenges we ran into
We discovered that most of the unsorted waste that is collected from households makes it hard for end users such as recycling companies to handle. Hence, the waste ends up in the landfills and significantly contributes to land degradation. We also realised that there are recycling companies and NGOs that are creating brilliant innovations from waste, but lack a platform where they could showcase their products to their intended market consumers; being those who are passionate about the environment and sustainability. There was need of a digital market place. We also encountered challenges such poor customer services, no proper channel of reporting illegal dumping, a lot of food being wasted (contributing to climate change and food waste) ,inefficiency and a lack of competitiveness among garbage collectors amongst others.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our idea is an award winning project. We scooped position in the top 10 best innovations in Zambia, out of 187 idea submissions. This was under the "Sustainable Waste Management Innovations" awards call by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP Accelerator Labs). We have managed to create a prototype for our app and are currently working on a minimum viable product to test.
What we learned
With teamwork, dedication and a selfless service to the people, making members of the community part of the solution is a great start to environmental sustainability. This, coupled with digital transformation, can be used as a powerful tool to achieve a green, clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all.
What's next for Ebusaka
We are focusing on developing a minimum viable product and begin testing the application in selected areas of Lusaka. We are also working closely with UNDP and the municipal council to help realise our vision. We have made it our goal that by 2030, we should transform the waste management industry in Zambia and surrounding regions, as well as create more green jobs.