“Join us. Sign up. Volunteer. Vote. Be part of the solution. We need you as partners and leaders.” _ called Antonio Guterres the United Nations Secretary-General. Wandji Gacha Laetitia, 23, is an environmental passionate who is actively following the call in Cameroon through her action on plastic waste management.
Waste management is a public health and environmental issue. Governments are slow to find adequate solutions and infrastructure to ensure both the drainage of wastewater and the recycling or sustainable management of industrial and domestic waste. In Cameroon, 70% of the floods are caused by the plastic bottles that block the pipes. To celebrate World Earth Day 2019, South Lights 2030 met an environmental talent who started to insure urban sanitation, cleaning up the environment through the management of plastic bottles that created floods in the city’s neighborhoods of Yaounde (Cameroon), and even the most exclusive areas of the city. Laeticia Gacha shared her views and motivations.
Your academic and professional background
I did primary school at Kribi Public School and Bafoussam Bilingual Public School. My secondary studies were held at Baobab International College and at Bafoussam Bilingual High School. I then attended the Catholic University of Buea where I obtained in 2018 a Bachelor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering.
What motivated you to voluntarily commit to the environment, how did you come to prioritise plastic waste management specifically and when did you really start?
I should say that my motivation comes from Jesus, because I believe he is fulfilling his words on what I do. The idea of picking up the plastic bottles came to me since I came to the capital city Yaounde. I found an exponential growth of waste in the city and its sourroundings, couppled with what I saw in other cities; and around the world has been a warning signal. Therefore, starting with plastic bottles is just a way to help the government in the sanitation scale that I could reach, from my humble level and with my own means.
I started over a year ago, and wanted to encourage a civic and citizen commitment to urban cleanliness; I did not appreciate the fact of seeing people just throwing the simple peanut shell from the window of a public transport car in town. I realized that people are not well sensitized on keeping the city cleaned. Then I started collecting things that took a long time to decompose, such as plastics waste. I started at home and didn’t knowing where to put them after collecting.
Three months ago, I discovered companies that recycle plastics I asked myself why not start collecting about tens of kilos for them? The good news was, they could come and pick them up with their own cars, so that solved the transportation issue. From there, I had no more reason to hold back, so I started.
My sister Christelle Moyo has always been a great support for me. It is thank to her and few other friends who have joined the initiative that we were able to start.
How do you envision this work in upcoming months / years?
In the future, I see thousands of people from all over the world who understand that a healthy body could only be a consequence of a healthy environment. The insalubrity, beyond environmental damage causes health issues: from cholera to typhoid, to name just a few.
I see a country, from here and elsewhere that values its waste plastics, paper, metal, organic among many others.
I see a balance between economic growth and the protection of the environment.
What do you believe could help advance this work for better results?
Secondly, human resources is the key. I would like to have many people involved in the initiative, many people who want to help reaching the sustainable development goals related to environmental protection, a clean and safe land, a clean water. People who care about sanitization.
Thirdly, financial support would be of a great help. This will allow us at least to have accurate protective equipments for our bodies as we deal with dust. This work, you know, is a real exposure to diseases, but it is not a fatality. Being well protected will surely our health us away from such attacks. We would also like to devote ourselves to this waste management, but as it can not fill our primary needs such as housing or food, we do it as a hobby but a secondary activity, which keeps it in a precarious status.