School Community Vermicomposting Project

Involved alumni:

The challenge that the project addresses

Harare has had a growing waste crisis. This has been caused by the lack of the City Council’s capacity to collect refuse from communities. This has affected high-density communities more than low-density communities. This increases health hazards and susceptibility to diseases. Additionally, fertilizer prices in Zimbabwe have tripled over the last nine months. Agriculture is a key economic activity in Zimbabwe. Fertilizer costs make up as much as 50% of input costs, this is going to have adverse effects on farmers, including urban farmers in Zimbabwe who rely on small-scale farming to supplement incomes and for food security.

What is your project doing to respond to this challenge?

The project builds vermicompost bins that collect biodegradable material from dumpsites close to food markets. The waste will be mixed with three kilograms of worms which will eat the fresh produce over three months to produce three tons of vermicompost every three months. The bins are 5m by 1m. they are built using bricks and cement. They are built in schools that are located close to the food markets. Students will be actively involved in taking care of the vermicompost bins by keeping them wet for the worms to live and thrive. The next stage of the project will be using half of the compost in school gardens to support the vegetable gardens with organic fertilizer. The other half of the vermicompost will be sold to urban farmers in the community and be established as an income-generating programme for the school. The funds generated from the organic fertilizer sales will be used to build more vermicompost bins.

Describe the project's impact

The project makes changes and impacts at four different levels. For the students, the project will provide a concrete example of mitigating climate change. It will also assist in the agriculture classes that are at schools. The schools will be able to employ the use of composting which will grow the culture of environmentalism in the school, added income for the school as well as reduce any fertilizer costs they might have. For the community, the project will in alleviating the waste challenges being experienced in the communities. It will also provide an example of how to create cheap, organic fertilizer. The environment in these communities will benefit from easing the waste challenges. The important impact is that as more vermicompost bins are established, this will become a tangible example of community based composting systems which could inspire more of the same to be created in cities in the global south where they are less popular at a systematic, city/town wide level.

The project will be used to install three vermicompost bins in three schools in high-density areas, namely, Mbare, Hatcliffe and Domboshava. Each school will also receive training and teaching on vermicomposting and its benefits.

Watch this video about their project.