Trilateral Partnership: Zomba, Malawi – Urbana, U.S. – Haizhu District, Guangzhou, China
Integrated Waste Management Project:
The Zomba-Urbana-Haizhu district trilateral partnership will focus on a waste management project. In Zomba, the partnership will restore the sewer lines and sewer plant, construct new communal refuse bankers, and procure small, waste transport vehicles and tools for composting. Zomba will also hold community sensitization and clean city campaigns to encourage better waste management in the community. Included in the project are professional waste management training exchanges between the three cities’ city waste management offices, private trash haulers, and professors, and a mayor and business delegation exchange.*
*Currently, the district government of Haizhu District, Guangzhou is still in the process of approving this project; however members of the Haizhu District community, including a professor at Sun Yat-sen University, will be involved.
Click here to a recent PowerPoint presentation by Urbana Sister Cities on their trip to China, July 17-31, 2013.
Visit to Haizhu District, October 31-November 6, 2013
From October 31-November 6, delegates representing Urbana, Illinois and Zomba, Malawi visited Haizhu District in Guangzhou, China to tour Haizhu District’s points of interest and sewage treatment plants, and meet with sewage experts to learn about waste management practices and technologies used in Haizhu District. Haizhu District officials and professors welcomed Busta Chiona (Zomba SAI Project Manager), Dickson Bennett Vuwa Phiri (Chair of Zomba Sister City Committee), and Ali Phiri (CEO of Zomba) representing Zomba and Christopher Stohr (Urbana SAI Project Manager) representing Urbana. Mr. Joseph Yang from the Foreign Affairs Office served as host during the trip.
The delegates spent time visiting two sewage treatment plants, one of which uses aerobic digestion as the primary treatment and was of interest to the delegates representing Zomba. The group also visited one of the two incinerators used to dispose of about 10% of Guangzhou wastes and produce 2% of the city’s electricity. The delegates learned a great deal about Chinese waste management practices.
The delegation met with Professor Kairong Lin and Professor Qiang Zhang from Sun Yat-Sen University and discussed the need for technical education in Malawi. They also met with Deputy Mayor Fang Jinqun to discuss the Zomba delegates’ interest in waste management and in obtaining a packer truck. Mr. Yang and the Foreign Affairs Office will work with Zomba on procuring a truck suitable for waste collection.
Christopher Stohr gave three lectures on three-dimensional geologic mapping, postclosure landfill maintenance, and geologic data management to the Guangzhou Geological Survey. The exchange also included seeing the sights of Haizhu District, as delegates visited Huangpu Ancient Port, Canton Tower, Haizhu Wetland Park, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Guangdong Museum, Flower City Plaza, and Haixinsha Park.
The exchange was successful and informative for everyone who participated. Currently, delegates are in the process of procuring a truck for waste collection truck.
Visit to Zomba, October 1-6, 2013
From October 1-6, 2013, delegates from Urbana and Haizhu District visited Zomba, Malawi, to tour the compost sites and meet with partners from Zomba. CEO of Zomba, Mr. Ali Phiri, and members of Zomba Sister Cities Committee and Zomba City Council welcomed Mr. John Dimit and Mr. Sam Smith from Urbana, and Dr. LIN Kairong and Dr. ZHANG Qiang from Sun Yat-sen University in Haizhu District.
Delegates toured the SAI project sites, which included the sewerage system, waste compost area, and waste dump area. They attended a community sensitization meeting, during which people from the local community learned about waste management and sanitation. The delegates also received a tour of Bwaila Primary School, Chancellor College, and Zomba Central Hospital. Finally, the group had some time to take a trip to the beautiful Liwonde National Park, north of Zomba.
Currently, sister city partners of Zomba, Urbana, and Haizhu District are planning a trilateral exchange to Haizhu District in November 2013, where they will discuss the final steps for their Integrated Waste Management project.
Malawian Delegation visit to Urbana, March 22-29, 2013
Malawians from Zomba Sister City and city staff visited Urbana during March 22-29, 2013. The purpose of the stay was to tour and observe waste management practices in the U.S., enjoy typical Midwestern cuisine, visit historical and cultural aspects of Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Illinois, and learn how to push cars out of drifted snow. And yes, there was shopping.
Visitors included Dickson Vuwa Phiri, Zomba Sister City Committee LLC Chair and delegation leader, ZSCC members Fatuma Ahmed Bhima, and Elizabeth Chingayipe. The delegation also included Alick Chima, Administrative Desk Officer, Ian Dolozi, Innocent Malomo of the Zomba, Malawi City staff. Urbana Sister City Committee members included: Dennis Roberts, Chair; Scott Dossett, Secretary; Christopher Stohr, SAI Project Manager, John Dimit, Assistant Project Manager; Scott Tess; Samuel Smith; Michael Kilcullen; Meg Miller and others from the community.
- Wei Zheng (Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, PRI, UIUC) lecture on aerobic digestion of sewage. Mr. Zheng described a low-cost, low-technology, low-maintenance method of sewage treatment by injection of air into the bottom of earthen sewage lagoons.
- Landscape Recycling Center tour. The tour included not a visit to the facilities and the history of this non-profit center, one of the first in the U.S. Zomba delegates and center staff discussed and explained operational and financial aspects of the center including evolution of the operation, federal, state, community-based support, marketing and sales of products, rental of specialized equipment, and annual and seasonal collection.
- The visitors toured three for-profit, solid-waste facilities: a transfer facility for waste and recyclables, an industrial recycling facility dealing with only certain types of wastes, and a local recycling facility which sorts materials collected by private haulers who pickup recyclables in three local communities.
- An on-site visit to the Urbana-Champaign sewage treatment was the first formal introduction for the Malawians to the management of wastes in Midwestern U.S. Mr. Rick Manner described the service of the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District, its financial support through taxation based upon water usage, restrictions on industrial waste release, seasonal changes in waste stream and so forth. The group toured the facility including the capture of methane from anaerobic digestion and the composting of sewage sludge for sale.
- David Monk on WEFT radio program interviewed the Zomba delegation and discussed their professional work, living conditions, and past and current development projects in Zomba. The group also participated in an Urbana City Council meeting where they described the purpose of their visit and current and past development projects. Dr. Kairong Lin, representing Haizhu District of Guangzhou, spoke in support of citizen-community diplomacy and the development projects. The Malawians presented gifts and sang to Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and the Urbana City Council.
- Introductions made at the Rotary Club lunch show promises of developing a new project to build toilets at schools or other water and sanitation projects in Zomba.
- A luncheon sponsored by the University of Illinois African Studies program gave local faculty and students working on development projects and research in Africa an opportunity to interact with the Malawian visitors.
- Perhaps the scheduled activity most enjoyed individually was the job shadowing setup by John Dimit, Scott Tess, Dennis Roberts, and Sam Smith. The visitors spent most or part of a day with their counterparts in city, medical, school, and engineering fields to exchange the common and uncommon aspects of their work. Feedback from the individuals and their counterparts finds that both hold the other in respect and high professional and personal regard. The USCC thinks that this was important to both the visitors and locals in terms of cross cultural understanding and goals of citizen diplomacy.
- The Malawi Mixer IV, a public reception for the Zomba delegation, brought together elected officials, dignitaries, professional and nonprofessional colleague come-friends, university faculty and students, Dr. Lin and his family from Haizhu District, and even a local Malawian who it was surprised to find that she went to school with one of the visitors. The guests feasted on American BBQ with a surprise addition of nsima, which was much appreciated by the Malawians who missed their native staple, many danced to Cajun and Folk music provided by the Tom Turino Band. Everyone had an enjoyable time and departed a little happier for the experience.
Anecdotal Events and Stories:
- Thanksgiving dinner. The Malawian visitors, Dr. Kairong Lin a
nd his family, from the Haizhu District of Guangzhou, Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and consort, and members of the Urbana Sister City Committee enjoyed a typical American Thanksgiving dinner prepared and hosted by John and Angie Dimit at their house. The elegantly presented, home-prepared dinner included turkey, sweet and mashed potatoes, side dishes of all kinds, and was concluded with coffee and several types of pie including pumpkin and pecan. The dinner was held in spite of an 11-inch snowstorm that made traveling to the Dimit house a challenge and departure nearly impossible. USCC chair, Dennis Roberts used his 4-wheel drive to break trail through the drifting snow allowing the Malawians and Chinese guests to shovel and push vehicles as the near blizzard raged. A good time had by all.
- Homeless shelter. After showing the Malawian visitors different types of local parks (neighborhood, large playground, open areas serving as floodwater retention, etc.) – in a snowstorm, they asked to visit a homeless shelter. We went to the TIMES Center where the director agreed to give an impromptu tour of the facilities and explain the onsite behavioral rules, washing facilities, meals, mandatory times when shelter residents had to leave the premises, programs to help the residents, and such. The group was impressed and noted that there was no such facility in their town but the need existed. Like many places in Africa, Malawi has a population of orphans from HIV-related illnesses.
- The visitors viewed “The Normal Heart” a play about early efforts by the gay community to promote government-sponsored research of the then new disease, AIDS. The Malawians thought that open discussion of the disease was important to stem its devastating harm in the world.
- Ghost Stories. After a typical American meal of Monical’s pizza Mr. Dickson Phiri regaled the group with a story. Host Christopher Stohr recognized the tale as nearly the same as an American ghost story. The group exchanged summaries of stories and determined that the spirit tales were found on both continents. Clearly the Malawians were the better story tellers.
There was much dialogue about the purchase of specific vehicle(s) for compost pickup at local sites. Immediate decisions on the purchase of the vehicle(s) will be made immediately to reinforce the public engagement part of the project.
In the news
March 25, 2013: City of Urbana Website: Presentation to the Urbana City Council by visiting delegates from Zomba, Malawi
March 27, 2013: The Daily Illini: Zomba, Malawi leaders recieve key to Urbana
March 28, 2013: The Daily Illini: Malawian citizens from Urbana’s sister city visit for cultural, technical awareness
July 18, 2013: The News-Gazette: ‘Citizen diplomats’ from Urbana visiting China
September 22, 2013: The News-Gazette: Journey to Haizhu: Building a Sister City Bond