Hardly anything worth saying about the magnitude and impact of environmental and other forms of pollution in the world has not been said.
Renowned British physician, psychologist, writer and social reformer Henry Havelock Ellis quipped many years ago that the sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.
Just years after him, notable American ecologist, conservationist, philosopher and author Aldo Leopold noted that people abuse land because they regard it as a commodity belonging to them – and that they might begin to use it with love and respect if they saw it as a community to which they belonged.
So much has been said about the causes and consequences of environmental pollution that there is indeed no further excuse for anyone to acquiesce in, much less help in perpetrating, the dangerous practice.
The problem has little to do with social or economic status, as some forms of pollution have assumed alarming proportions in the world’s leading economies while others remain more of a common feature in poor countries.
What matters most, however, is the aggressiveness and commitment with which nations, communities and corporate and other entities are striving to prevent the situation from degenerating. This is the main rationale for the formation of such international agencies as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), national ones such as Tanzania’s National Environment Management Council (NEMC) as well as a plethora of specially tailored community-based organisations.
Accordingly, UNEP is charged with providing leadership and encouraging partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. It thus works to encourage sustainable development through sound environmental practices across the globe.
In some way by logical extension, NEMC is expected to ensure protection of the environment and sustainable management and use of Tanzania’s natural and other resources for enhancing the quality of lives of the people.
But these will remain hollow policy statement or declarations of intent unless deliberate efforts are made to translate it into workable interventions able to make the world and its surroundings as pollution-free as possible.
It is thus of fundamental importance to properly evaluate the efficiency with which these agencies play a leading role in safeguarding and promoting the quality of the environment and providing expert advice in the event of significant environmental impacts to society.
It is against the backdrop of these considerations that we feel compelled to applaud the University of Dar es Salaam’s College of Engineering and Technology (CoET) following the unveiling of its non-burn medical waste disposal machines.
Reports say this technological breakthrough is most opportune and promises to play a pivotal part in complementing efforts to safeguard and promote public health and the environment.
The World Health Organisation has long discouraged recourse to incineration as a way to disposing of waste disposal, including in hospitals, saying it is a sure environmental and health hazard.
We have thus every reason to salute CoET for an innovative home-grown initiative that could make our country less polluted than it now is.