Catherine Nachalwe

My name is Catherine Nachalwe, and I am an undergraduate student in the class of 2027. I am intending to major in economics and environmental science and policy. In the first semester of my first year at Duke, I took a focus class called Environmental Justice and Climate Movements. This class exposed me to a lot of knowledge regarding environmental injustices people face in various parts of the United States, which made me think about similar challenges faced by low-income individuals in my home country of Zambia.
I grew up in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. My house was about 230 meters away from Lusaka’s biggest dumpsite called Chunga Dumpsite. Half of Lusaka’s daily waste is dumped here and incinerated, but this causes pollution in the surrounding residences, especially toxic air fumes. In my first semester, I learned about Environmental Justice mapping tools that display different pollution intensities and the types of diseases or health conditions prevalent in those areas. After using the tools, I discovered a strong correlation between areas with high air pollution and the prevalence of asthma and other respiratory infections.
I grew up near the Chunga dumpsite, and I suffered from asthma throughout my time there. This suggests that many other people near that area may suffer from the same disease or other respiratory diseases. Unfortunately, Zambia lacks Environmental Justice mapping tools that could reveal such information or provide further insight into air pollution-related diseases near the Chunga Dumpsite.
Therefore, I want to do research that will enable me to find out more about this pollution, linked diseases, and analyze the results in terms of environmental justice and public health for the people of Chunga and surrounding areas.