WFP staff reduce consumption in Tanzania

Thu, 02/06/16

As they work towards reducing their environmental footprint, the World Food Programme (WFP) in Tanzania has been making small changes to their levels of consumption, with great effect.

The initiatives started three years ago, when the organisation encouraged staff to recycle. This resulted in over 2,500 kilogrammes of waste – tin, cardboard, glass, plastic and enough paper to save 24 trees – to be recycled at the Country Office in Dar es Salaam.

“Recycling is great, but we don’t want to stop there,” says Antonio Baez, WFP Head of Finance and Administration. “We need to reduce our consumption. That’s the ultimate goal.”

As awareness of green initiatives grew, staff started to realise the impact that their small changes were having on office-wide consumption. From 2014 to 2015, WFP reduced electricity use by 7%, water by 24% and paper by 50%. These efforts saved enough energy to power the office for 25.5 days.

As a result of these successes the pace of change increased.

“At first it can be difficult because it is a lot of work,” says Lydia Seko, WFP Business Support Assistant. “You need motivation to develop the right habits.”

In order to engage and maintain interest in green initiatives, three WFP Tanzania units worked together to generate a tool for regularly reminding staff about small actions they can take to reduce consumption. The solution was to have daily pop-up messages on each computer upon start-up.

These short, tailored messages contain reminders about reducing energy use and conserving the earth’s resources. One message, for example, reads, “If you’re away from your computer for more than 20 minutes, change it to ‘sleep’ mode to save energy.”

Agnes Mbaruku, WFP Administrative Assistant, is greeted with an environmentally friendly reminder as she starts up her computer in the morning at the Tanzania Country Office in Dar es Salaam Photo: WFP/Max Wohlgemuth

The pop-up message campaign proved so effective that WFP Tanzania received a 2015 Innovation Challenge Award from WFP headquarters.

“It was great,” says Antonio Baez. “We found an easy and effective way to communicate with the staff and we found out we were saving quite a bit of money.”

WFP Tanzania has reinvested savings made in further green initiatives, such as updating their road fleet with newer vehicles, which have better fuel efficiency and lower emission levels.

In April of this year, WFP finished installing solar panels that can reduce office electricity use by up to one-third. Encouraging staff to make small changes to reduce consumption at work has led to a knock-on effect outside the organisation.

Staff began implementing similar consumption reducing habits in a domestic setting: monitoring their domestic energy use, switching to lower consumption fluorescent light bulbs, turning off lights and switching off unused appliances.

Agnes Mbaruku, WFP Administrative Assistant, has been able to reduce her domestic electricity bill by more than half.

“It changed my way of living,” she says. “I didn’t realize how much you could save if you are just mindful of what you are doing.”

Staff now regularly bring in recyclables from home for sorting in WFP’s recycling facilities. These recyclables are collected by a Dar es Salaam-based waste management company, The Recycler. The materials are then distributed to local industries where they are broken down and used as raw materials in the production of new goods like toilet paper, envelopes, buckets, rope and glass products.

WFP Administrative Assistant, Agnes Mbaruku, sorts the recyclables she brought from home into one of WFP’s marked bins outside the Tanzania Country Office in Dar es Salaam. Photo: WFP/Max Wohlgemuth

Greening the Blue looks forward to sharing more successful updates as WFP Tanzania continue to implement greening initiatives.

Read more about the World Food Programme in the United Republic of Tanzania.

Categories: Staff Engagement