28 Jun
  • By Pump Aid

Turning Trash into Cash in Malawi’s slums

It’s around 10.30 in the morning and very sunny in Kachere which is one of the slums in Blantyre, the second largest city in Malawi. The waste collectors are gathered at the sanitation centre after a busy morning sorting waste at a dumpsite. Rodrick is one of these waste agents who has been in Kachere for many years with his wife and two children. He tells us his story.


‘I used to work as a guard for a company but they didn’t pay me my salary for 3 months so I was struggling to provide for my family. I hoped that my perseverance would pay off but I never received any money so I’m very lucky to be working for this waste business or my family would have been doomed’.

Many councils across Malawi simply don’t have the capacity to fund a reliable waste collection service. Comic Relief are funding Pump Aid to be able to support entrepreneurs like Rodrick to run businesses in waste collection. As most waste products in Malawi are plant-based, these are extracted and covered over to speed up the process of turning them into compost. This compost is then sold by the entrepreneurs to invest back into the company or to provide for their families. We asked Rodrick about his experience:

‘We have got off to a great start with this business, and have made many sales as people have been waiting for something like this for a long time. I’ve produced 25 bags of compost manure and sold 11 bags at 1200 Kwacha (£1.30) per bag. I have learnt about a lot more than just waste from the centre such as team work and I’m very happy knowing that I am going to be getting cash at the end of work so I can look out for my wife and children.’


It’s not just the waste collectors that are benefitting from this project. Customers who buy the compost are seeing better results in their crops and are keen to buy their products from local sellers who charge a reasonable price. Not only this, but by clearing the waste away, it allows people in the community to be able to access their homes and toilet facilities without climbing over bags of rubbish. Waste agents have also planted maize and beans on the surrounding land, not only to eat but to show the effectiveness of the compost to attract new customers.


We are proud that Pump Aid works with entrepreneurs to give them a sustainable future rather than a quick fix which wouldn’t necessarily last without continuous funding. In fact, we won International Aid and Development Charity of the Year for our innovative ways to solving water poverty. Have a read of our press release here.

Find out more about our Urban Development programme here.

For more information, please visit our website at or email us at


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