Joel Tembo Vwira

Through his innovative business, as well as mobilising churches and communities, Joel is meeting the need for effective waste management and recycling in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

His work has made a dramatic difference to his city and its people, and Joel now plans to expand his approach to other cities across Africa.

Location: DR Congo

Sector: Environmental Sustainability

Year Selected: 2010


  • Joel - church and environmental management
  • Joel Church and environmental management
  • Joel - Garden using compost from garbage as fertiliser
  • Joel - Garbage recycling
  • Joel - Mobilisation with public authorities
  • Joel - Garbage collection
  • Project photo

Joel recognised waste disposal as a serious but neglected local need. In response, he used his business and leadership skills to bring about amazing transformation on the streets of Goma.

Joel lives and works in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has a degree in business studies from the University of Goma.

Rubbish littered the streets of Goma - children played in it, cars drove over it and people walked past it every day.

With conflict and widespread poverty to deal with, the government was struggling to keep waste under control, sending just one truck twice a year to collect it.

Joel was one of few people to recognise waste management as an important issue in Goma - one with serious implications for people's health as well as the local environment.

Joel's church was on a street piled high with rubbish, but the congregation was doing nothing about it. To raise awareness and mobilise a church and community response, Joel set about taking groups of young people litter-picking.

Next, Joel set up a business to tackle the problem on a wider scale. He provided rubbish bins and a weekly collection service for homes and businesses. He then introduced new recycling initiatives, as well as training people to turn food waste into fertiliser to sell for extra income.

The results of all this were significant, winning him government backing and an award from the local EU office.

Today, Joel's business has more than 1,000 clients and employs around 30 people. The streets of Goma are becoming cleaner by the day, and Joel has big plans to expand to other cities across Africa.

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