Last week I wrote about the glaring air pollution in Myanmar, and I specifically focused on Mandalay town that tourists often skip because of the toxic air despite its historical and commercial significance.
This week I will focus on the poor state of solid waste pollution in Myanmar. Apart from a few regulated areas, the larger part of the country is polluted; wastes are dumped along the roads in towns, shopping centers, and villages.
Burma as it was formerly known is still healing from the civil war that lasted several decades and the regular ethnic groups that have forced some places to be prohibited from tourists. The scars left by the battles on the environment are still evident. The roads, for example, are still in a bad shape.
The 1975 and 2016 earthquakes also destroyed a great deal of property- roads, buildings, and lives lost
Solid Waste and Tourism
Despite the aforementioned events, Myanmar could still solve the solid waste menace that could sooner or later chase away tourists. Tourism is a crucial source of revenue for this developing nation; losing tourists will have a toll on the economy.
I had an opportunity to spark conversations with a few travellers; clearly, most of them were distressed by air pollution and solid waste disposal issues.
It is clear, though, that no effective environmental policies and systems are in place and that the people are not aware of the significance of legal and proper waste disposal, or it is just out of ignorance.
Preserved archaeological areas, however, are clean with well-organized waste disposal mechanisms.
The rules and regulations governing the operations within these preserved sites are the reason they are clean and appealing. Thus, this explains why several travellers would spend a lot of money to visit them.
It goes without doubt that Myanmar is amazingly scenic, with a rich history and culture. Nonetheless, if nothing is done to salvage the existing environmental damages, then its beautiful culture and nature might soon be of little to no value
Comparison with East Africa
Figuring out the solid waste menace in Myanmar brings me closer home, East Africa.
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, which is the star of the country, is very clean. The monthly compulsory cleanups that shut down any ongoing activity for the better part of the specific day is significant. This explains the increasing number of investors and tourists trooping the county not only for the gorillas but also for the clean environment.
Mombasa, which is the central hub of tourism in Kenya for both local and international tourists, was once a mess and almost costed the country its seemingly the main source of revenue.
While Mombasa isn’t as clean as it should be for a town of its stature, it is easy to notice the improvement
Call to Action
Burma’s problem is one any country can experience and learn from. Keeping a clean environment is cheaper if all the necessary measures are taken into account, but it is expensive to clean a polluted environment.
Collective effort is fundamental to keeping a clean environment and more so when it comes to solid waste management- both from the citizens and those in authority.