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

Delegates visit a sewage treatment plant in Haizhu District.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.

Delegates at the Guangzhou Waste to Energy Incinerator. Pictured from left to right: From Left to Right: Yang (Joseph) Zhihua, (Haizhu District Foreign Affairs), Katrina Chen (Guangzhou Environment Protection Investment Group Co., Ltd), Busta Chiona (Zomba SAI Project Manager), Nathan Kato-Wallace, (Environmental Health Officer, US Consulate General), Christopher Stohr  (Urbana SAI Project Manager)), Ali Phiri (CEO, Zomba City Council), Dickson Bennett Vuwa Phiri (Chair, Zomba Sister City Committee)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.

The group visits the Guangzhou Waste to Energy Incinerator.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

Delegates met with the Zomba Sister City Committee and Zomba City CouncilFrom 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.

 Tour of SAI project sites        Delegates attended the community sensitization meeting.  Pictured from left to right: John Dimit (Urbana), Sam Smith (Urbana), Ali Phiri (CEO of Zomba), ZHANG Qiang (Haizhu), LIN Kairong (Haizhu)

Malawian Delegation visit to Urbana, March 22-29, 2013

Malawian visitors pose for farewell photo with USCC member Sam SmithZSCC and USCC members (Left to Right) background Dennis Roberts, Fatuma Bhima, Elizabeth Chingayipe, Dickson Phiri, Chris Stohr, Ian Dolozi, Alick Chima, Meg Miller. Foreground John Dimit, Scott Dossett and Innocent MalomoMalawians 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.


  • Urbana Landscape Recycling coordinator and arborist, Mike Brunk, explains the sorting, sales and operation of the composting process to ZSCC, USCC, and SCI visitorsWei 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.
  • Visit to a sorting and recycling facility 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.
  • Urbana Champaign Sanitary District director Rick Manner and Zomba Sewage Works director Innocent Malomo discuss treatment processes as Zomba Sister City Committee LLC Chair Dickson Phiri listensDavid 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.
  • Zomba Sister City Committee LLC members Fatuma Bhimi , Dickson Phiri, and Elizabeth Chingayipe  inspect Urbana Champaign Sanitary District equipment at the sewage treatment facility during the visitA 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.
  • Zomba Sister City Committee LLC members inspect and hold composted sewage sludge from Urbana Champaign Sanitary District facility as Director Rick Manner explains potential uses for the mateial. Committee members from Zomba and Urbana discussed  community engagement as an important aspect of diversion of organics as part of waste managementThe 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.  

      Malawi Mixer  Brad Bennet, Bill Gray, Scott Tess, Ian Dolozi, and Innocent Malomo discuss sustainable programs for sanitary and storm sewers        Dr. Kairong Lin, Sun Yat Sen University, and Nuole “Lula” Chen, Sino-African Initiative project manager, Sister Cities International, exchange business cards at Malawi Mixer IV at the Independent Media Center as Urbana City Engineer Bill Gray looks on      


Anecdotal Events and Stories:

Upcoming events

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