Zero Plastique – a success story

A year ago, Anny Darlene Ndorimana and Raissa Mpundu declared war on plastic waste in Bujumbura. With the support of the Baden-Württemberg Development Cooperation Foundation (SEZ), the two launched the Zero Plastique project in the Burundian metropolis.

Bujumbura, like many cities and metropolitan areas, has a garbage problem; Pollution from plastic bottles and plastic bags in particular has serious consequences. For example, using plastic bags to start a fire poses major health risks. In addition, the blockage of sewers by plastic waste led to severe flooding in Bujumbura a few years ago.

Against this background, Anny Darlene Ndorimana, managing director of RC Retraining, and Raissa Mpundu, doctoral student and former scholarship holder at the University of Tübingen, started the “Zero Plastique” project in 2018. The two prepared the project thoroughly and analyzed how, in addition to raising awareness about more environmental protection and less plastic pollution, disadvantaged groups can also be included. For example, they train young, single mothers, refugees and students to become environmental ambassadors.

 

Plastic waste is made into stools

RC Retraining combines environmental awareness with entrepreneurship. The two initiators organized numerous clean-up activities on Lake Tanganyika to make the public aware of the careless use of plastic. The collected plastic bottles are used, among other things, to make very comfortable stools, which, as upcycled pieces of furniture, always convey part of RC Retraining's message. To create these stools, Ndorimana works exclusively with women's organizations from rural areas so that they can become more economically independent through qualification and production, because, says the entrepreneur, "they should gain more self-confidence and self-confidence through the work."

Another important aspect is the way in which Anny Darlene Ndorimana and Raissa Mpundu communicate their concerns. They have managed to package their messages in such a way that they reach the people of Burundi. Among other things, advertising and YouTube videos were created that use situations from the daily lives of the target groups addressed in order to sustainably convey the “zero plastic” message.

 

SEZ network good basis

Last but not least, this project represents the networking of one of the SEZ's most important work areas. Anny Darlene Ndorimana took part in the Fair Trade 2018 trade fair, where she exhibited shoes and accessories with applications made from upcycled plastic. Although Raissa and Darlene grew up in the same neighborhood in Bujumbura, they only met in Stuttgart through Baden-Württemberg's state partnership with Burundi. Raissa, who completed her master's degree in Baden-Württemberg as a scholarship holder as part of the university cooperation with the Université du Burundi, is now one of the first doctoral students in this cooperation. Both women were able to rely on the SEZ network in Burundi and Baden-Württemberg for the various project activities, such as filming, work assignments or ambassador training, and at the same time enriched it with their ideas and their own connections.

The SEZ and especially the Burundi Competence Center are pleased about this project. It is financially supported by the SEZ with funds from the state of Baden-Württemberg via the funding line beffekt!Burundi. RC Retraining, a social start-up dedicated to environmental protection and labor market integration, was able to make a decisive contribution to reducing plastic pollution in Bujumbura with the project.

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