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Spotless Attraction: Lessons From The City Of Water

If you think all waterways splitting cities are filthy and smelly, think again.

At Aranda Airport in Stockholm, taps beckon visitors to pure water from Lake Malaren and implore them to keep it that way.

"This is good," sighed Water for People executive director Kate Harawa, washing hands on departure from the Swedish capital in 2018. "I wish all rivers in our cities back home in Malawi had clean water we can use, but they are all foul-smelling and polluted."

Spanning just a third of the 402-km Shire River, Lake Malaren splits Europe's City of Water without a stench or eyesore.

It's a spotless but evergreen hive of activity. Some adventurers are seen taking boat rides into the lake, leisure walks on its forested shores, cycling to keep fit, sightseeing and playing golf.

The third-largest freshwater lake in Sweden constitutes a cool and calm place where tourists, bookworms, workaholics, students, families, workmates and friends enjoy.

And citizens both young and old jealousy protect the tourist attraction which flows 120km to the Baltic Sea.

When a Nigerian delegate to the 2018 World Water Week conference convened by the Stockholm International Water Institute (Siwi) dropped a candy wrapper on its shore, a girl aged about eight trailed him over a kilometre to a Burger King eatery and handed him the tiny plastic to drop it in a bin, "not anyhow".

Her furry at reckless waste disposal, like the allure of Lake Malarene and its surroundings, personify the power of Sweden's environmental education which has produced teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg, 16. The Time Magazine's youngest Person of the Year pioneered worldwide school strikes to jolt lax world leaders to act "as if the house is on fire" in combating global warming. In May, she lashed out at Danish authorities because Copenhagen has since 2014 pumped large amounts of wastewater into the strait separating Sweden and Denmark.

During the 2018 World Water Week, Swedish Minister of Environment told delegates from different continents that children are taught to value water and nature at a young age--and this forms part of lifelong learning from nusery school to universities.

Such is the spirit of her city where locals refuse to turn waterways into dumpsites as do Malawians along Mudi and Nasolo rivers in Blantyre, Likangala in Zomba, Lilongwe and Lingadzi in Lilongwe as well as Lunyangwa in Mzuzu.

The green vicinities of Lake Malarene are dotted with golf courses, resorts and offices that offer a camera-ready homemade contrast to the natural attraction.

The frequently photographed water body's shore also plays home to Stockholm City Council headquarters and the historic City Hall, where Nobel winners receive the famous peace prize.

Its most visited green spaces are adorned with paved tracks where bikers and pedestrians ply in peace.

A walk along the lake takes visitors to the climax of a love story of a city and its water while city-dwellers in Malawi keep polluting waterways with waste of all kinds and fumes from homes, markets and factories.

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