On Thursday, 11th April 2019, the Freetown City Council (FCC) declared the Tar Road community, a hard-to-reach community in the East of Freetown, as winner of the 1st edition of the Cleanest Zone Competition.
During the live show, representatives from the top 5 zones made statements on the efforts they made as communities to improve the cleanliness of their environment. Their presentations revealed that different systems proved successful in the different communities. Some systems emphasized on how communities ensured that their waste is properly collected and disposed of whilst others focused on how often cleaning should take place. From the involvement of youth groups and tricycle waste collectors to the distribution of bags to households for collecting trash; from sending a fundraising proposal to a private sector company to soliciting donations from well-meaning residents of their communities, the top five zones demonstrated that sanitation issues can only be addressed through deliberate efforts by communities to come up with solutions, which is the aim of the Cleanest Zone Competition.
What was most notable was that zones had overcome considerable challenges to make it into the top five. The zonal representative of the Kennedy Street Market Community stated with great pride that his zone is the only zone among the top five zones that has a market and lorry park, which generate a lot of waste daily. Zonal representatives from Cold water Community and Tar Road Community pointed to the fact that their communities are not accessible by car, and so they had to devise methods to dispose of their trash with waste collectors who could not access their communities. Other community representatives had to deal with skeptics, who thought that they (community representatives) had misappropriated the funds FCC had provided for zones to participate in the Cleanest Zone Competition.
Whilst receiving the award on behalf of his community; Councillor Luckyn Mansaray, representing Ward 406 commended Tar Road for their tremendous efforts in taking ownership of cleaning their environment on a regular basis. “I am here today because of the efforts of everybody that cleaned tirelessly everyday – the women, young men, the stakeholders, the ward committee members. We all came together to work and today, we stand here victorious.” The community will receive 10 solar street lights, 250 meters of paved road, 10,000-liter water tank/point and scholarships for 10 pupils.
Consolatory prizes were awarded to all other zones in the top five. Fifth place, Kennedy Street Market Community will receive scholarship support; fourth place, Cold Water Community will receive a water point and scholarship support; third place, Prison’s Community will receive a water point and scholarship support, and second place, Brookfields Community will receive a water point and scholarship. All prizes will be awarded within the next four to six weeks.
The prizes have been a source of great inspiration to other councillors and ward development committee members who did not make it to the top five. After the live show, one councillor declared, “If all these zones with all these problems were able to make it to top five, I am going to mobilize my community to win the next edition of the Cleanest Zone Competition.”
In her closing statement, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr congratulated the winning zone and launched the 2nd edition of the Cleanest Zone Competition, urging other communities to get more involved for the opportunity to win during the 2nd edition. The 2nd edition will end in October 2019 and there will be subsequent competitions every 6 months.
The awards show, which aired live on AYV TV, was the culmination of a six-month journey in which 322 zones across Freetown competed for the grand prize. The competition, launched in October 2018 rewards communities that have made the biggest improvement in sanitation within their zones with amazing prizes which will make a real difference to those communities in the long term.
The rules for the competition have been carefully designed to ensure that all communities have an equal chance of winning the prize. Some areas of Freetown are already cleaner than others, therefore, the competition rewards the greatest improvement in cleanliness in each zone, measured against a baseline assessment, which will be undertaken by Freetown City Council’s team of assessors in the very near future.