24 Apr 2017
Marrakech, Morocco
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

Taking photos of garbage has never been so enticing. All thanks to M3KOD, a Moroccan mobile and web development agency whose most recent initiative is changing the way people in Morocco view their neighborhoods.  

It is called Ville Propre (Clean City in English), a mobile social networking app that enables Moroccan citizens to become waste vigilantes. Users flag an area for cleaning by simply snapping a photo of a pile of trash on the street or an overflowing garbage bin. That location is then sent to local waste management companies, Ville Propre’s partners on the project.
“Ville Propre is like the Instagram or Facebook of waste,” said CEO and Co-founder of M3KOD Mouhsin Bour Qaiba.

 

Want a cleaner community? There is an app for that | The Switchers

A solution to pollution:

Ville Propre was launched in August, 2016, and has reached 8,000 Android and Apple users across the country, with more than 100 waste claims submitted per day.

When users are out and about they can use the app to capture photos of their unsightly finds: a pile of garbage slumped on a lamp post, a brimming trash can. From there, the photos go to Bour Qaiba’s team. Despite M3KOD’s involvement in multiple projects, Bour Qaiba says that each of the team spends a fair amount of time looking at photos of garbage. They then weed out poor quality photos and fake claims, and forward the cleaning requests to their local waste management partners.

In addition to the visual elements of social media, the Ville Propre app — which was developed in-house by M3KOD — introduces another popular feature to encourage use: gamification. Gamification is the inclusion of gaming principles such as point scoring, competition, and other rules of play. By flagging waste scenes and recycling, users are rewarded with commitment points that can be redeemed for digital badges, phone credit refills, restaurant vouchers, movie tickets, and other goodies.

Want a cleaner community? There is an app for that | The Switchers

Getting the community involved:

Despite the prevalence of smartphones and social networking among younger generations, Bour Qaiba said Ville Propre’s users are both young and old. “They participate not for the gifts, but because they want to improve the city,” he added.

Mariam Ait Oufkir has been using the Ville Propre app for nearly a year. She lives in Essaouira, a city along Morocco’s Atlantic coast.

“Last year it was impossible to breathe along the roads, because of the bad smell of trash,” Ait Oufkir explained. “Essaouira is known as a windy city, and we had a festival of dancing and all you could see was the trash moving around. I had to do something.”

That was when Ait Oufkir decided to download the Ville Propre app. She has since made nine claims in different parts of her city.
“Like magic, all nine claims worked because the places are now clean. I’m so happy I can breathe easily while riding my bike, and reassured because I can talk about the environmental problems I see in my city,” she said. “We have the responsibility to preserve our environment, and the Ville Propre app is helping me accomplish that responsibility.”

Want a cleaner community? There is an app for that | The Switchers

Residential waste now less of an issue:

Here is a problem with trash, especially in Marrakech where M3KOD is based: there is plenty of waste collection — just not in the residential parts of the city.

“Normally, the waste company will start with the tourist areas and center of the city,” Bour Qaiba said. “They clean every day, every few hours even. But for other places in the city, they do not clean until three or four days later.”

Reporting through Ville Propre means waste companies have finally started to prioritize less frequented residential areas. While the app is free for everyday users, municipalities and waste management companies pay an annual subscription fee, making the project a sustainable social business.

Solid waste management is an issue around the world, and Morocco is no exception. It is estimated that more than five million tons of solid waste are generated across the country each year.

Until waste management companies can cover all areas of town, Bour Qaiba says it is up to citizens like him and users like Ait Oufkir to take charge of making their city clean.

Want a cleaner community? There is an app for that | The Switchers

Not just waste, but recycling too:

Another purpose of the Ville Propre app is to encourage and increase recycling rates in Morocco’s cities.

Trash collecting is a popular informal sector job in Morocco, noted Bour Qaiba, often engaged in by poorer segments of the population. To address safety issues, a World Bank project created the Oum Azza waste management site, which operates as a waste sorting cooperative. The priority for the bank and the country alike is to increase the rate of materials collected and recycled from 5% to 20% by 2022.

In parallel, Ville Propre will help reach this target. Through the app, users can opt into working with local recycling companies to collect and sort recyclables from trash. People are provided with three colored bags: blue for plastics, yellow for glass, and green for cartons and cardboard.

Bour Qaiba sees their recycling program as a way to create more jobs and, mirroring the World Bank project, a way to prevent people from sorting unprepared through piles of waste that could be toxic.

To other community concerns — and other regions:

Ridding Morocco’s streets of garbage is just step one for Bour Qaiba and M3KOD. “We want to create the first social network to manage the problem of waste in cities,” he said. “We want to include other environmental problems like green transportation, to get a real app to promote clean cities. Our next goal is to target other environment-friendly solutions.”

Ville Propre has been contacted by other waste management companies who want to export the Ville Propre solution to their countries. With any luck, you could soon see cleaner streets in France, Mauritania, Cameroon, and Senegal, Bour Qaiba said.

While managing M3KOD’s web and mobile agency on a full-time basis, Bour Qaiba eventually plans to dedicate his energy and efforts to Ville Propre alone. He and his team have already been recognized for the ingenuity of the app: Ville Propre won first place in the Moroccan Social Entrepreneurship Summit. The team has also been accepted into the Citibank Citi Accelerator and the FbStart incubation program created by Facebook. Otherwise, the Ville Propre team is looking for funding to continue with their fast growth and increase their impact further.

Wherever Ville Propre ends up, Bour Qaiba wants everyone to play a role in cleaning up their neighborhoods. “As citizens, we produce a lot of trash. If we start to take pictures and be active in cleaning our city, we can solve problems as a community.”

And for that, it will be worth having photos of trash on your phone.

 

Web: https://villepropre.com/

        http://www.m3kod.com/

App: iPhone : https://goo.gl/zK0Ljt
          Android : https://goo.gl/bpmYof

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/villepropreInc
Twitter: https://twitter.com/villepropreInc

 

Photo credit: Courtesy of Ville Propre and Mouhsin Bour Qaiba

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