Tag Archives: solid waste management

WASHplus Weekly – The informal sector and solid waste management

Issue 50 April 6, 2012 | Focus on the Informal Sector and Solid Waste Management

The informal waste sector provides a much needed service in the developing world; the work of this sector reduces waste in communities, increases the reclamation and reuse of materials, and helps to lower greenhouse gas emissions. This issue of the WASHplus Weekly contains recent reviews on the economics of the informal sector and the diseases and injuries that waste pickers endure. Also included are case studies from Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, the Philippines, and recent videos.

Please let WASHplus know at any time if you have resources to share for future issues of WASHplus Weekly or if you have suggestions for future topics. An archive of past Weekly issues is available on the WASHplus website. 

Thailand, Bangkok: struggling to clear garbage in flood crisis

Garbage piled up on a flooded street in Bangkok, Thailand

Garbage piled up on a flooded street in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Getty Images / WSJ

Industrial parks in Bangkok are being threatened after residents in Bangkok’s northeast demolish government-built levies to release the stagnant, garbage-ridden water that was building up in their neighbourhoods, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Flooded roads are preventing garbage collectors getting to many areas—raising fears over the risk of disease and over the blockage of drains, which is impeding the flow of water into the sea. Bangkok produces about 8,700 tons of rubbish a day—roughly a quarter of Thailand’s total. Added to that figure is the additional trash flowing into the city from northern provinces.

Continue reading

India, Ahmedabad: marriage season affects city garbage collection in city

Garbage is piling up in the streets of Ahmedabad in Gujarat because more than 40 per cent of the municipal sanitation workers are on leave to attend marriages. Thousands of weddings are taking place in the state from 16 to 26 May 2011, after a gap of six months pending auspicious dates in the Hindu calendar.

Overflowing garbage collection sites. Photo: Ahmedabad Mirror

The collection of sold waste by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has gone down to 2,000 tonnes from the daily average of 2,600 to 2,700 tonnes. The AMC is asking on-duty sanitation workers to work on double shifts.

The civic authority has 7,500 permanent sanitation workers and 3,000 daily wage earners cleaning the city roads. The percentage of permanent workers on leave is higher than that of daily wage earners, which has badly affected daily sweeping of roads and solid waste collection.

Health and Solid Waste Committee Chairman Suresh Patel said, “Four agencies are involved in solid waste collection in the city. We have asked them to collect solid waste regularly. It is up to them whether they work in double shift or single.”

One wedding celebration turned into turned into a nightmare for two AMC “safai kamdars” (sweepers), when 250 of their guests ended up in hospital with food poisoning. The brothers Dinesh and Ishwar Purbiya were hosting around 1,500 guests for the marriage of their two daughters.

Source: Ruturaj Jadav, Ahmedabad Mirror, 19 May 2011 ; DeshGujarat.Com, 14 May 2011 ; DNA, 18 May 2011

India, New Delhi: using Facebook and SMS to keep the city clean

With this photo on Facebook local resident Akshay Arora asks the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to "kindly send some one and get it clean this Toilet/Urinal". One day later on 7 April 2011, MCD replied: "Your complaint reference no. is 02/0704/SP"

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) launched its Facebook page in January 2011 and an integrated SMS service in March 2011 to enable public monitoring of garbage collection sites and public urinals/toilets in areas under its jurisdiction.The first experiences were positive as illustrated by the example of 22-year-old Piyush Goyal posted his complaint of garbage spilling over from the dump in his area.

On January 8, he clicked pictures of the seven dirty ones in South Delhi’s R K Puram area and posted them on Facebook. And the next day, he says, he saw the pictures of clean dhalaos uploaded by the MCD.

“There is lot of transparency through this way. The man who actually cleans it asked me why I uploaded the pictures. So the information is going from top to the bottom,” says Goyal.

MCD additional commissioner (engineering) Anshu Prakash added:

“This system is increasing transparency, fixing accountability and putting everything under public scrutiny. And none of us like to be ashamed in public. So people have started working at the bottom”.

Continue reading

Nepal, Kathmandu: ragpickers earn US$ 275 a month

Ragpickers in Kathamandu earn more than top civil servants (gazetted first class officers) in Nepal, according to study by the Centre for Integral Urban Development (CIUD).

Presenting a study report about the scavengers conducted in 20 places of Kathmandu Metropolitan and Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City, the CIUD said the professional pickers make more than Rs. 21,000 (US$ 275) per month.

According to the report, one picker collects more than a hundred kg of trash including rags, plastic wares and scrap per day. These items are sold for Rs. 7 (9 US dollar cents) per kg on average, which makes more than seven hundred per day, amounting to Rs. 21,000 (US$ 275) monthly.

“Their earning is enough to manage the quality life but they don’t use it for their good and neither have the saving habit,” said Brinda Shrestha, one of the researchers. “They spend most of the income on alcohol and entertainment.”

More than 70 percent of the pickers are from indigenous communities, and around 12 percent pickers are Indian nationals. Some 60 percent are 16 to 35 years old, and 77 per cent are illiterate.

Source: eKantipur, 04 Jul 2010

Urban catastrophes: the Wat/San dimension

A lack of clean water and sanitation in burgeoning slums could trigger a complex set of humanitarian crises says a new [forthcoming] paper, Urban Catastrophes: The Wat/San Dimension [1], by the Humanitarian Futures Programme (HFP) of King’s College London, which keeps an eye on possible crises that could emerge in the not too distant future.

Using plausible but fictitious scenarios set in the slums of Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, and the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the paper shows how water scarcity brought on by climate change and large numbers of people in urban areas could lead to water stress, especially in slums, where shortages can stoke conflicts and an outbreak of a new and virulent influenza.

Simultaneously, the new biennial report by UN-HABITAT, the State of the World Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide, notes that around 3.49 billion people – more than half the world’s population – now live in urban areas, of which 827.6 million are slum-dwellers. The global slum population will probably grow by six million each year, pushing the total number to 889 million in another 10 years.

Urbanization can also provoke water-quality problems, leading to outbreaks of waterborne diseases like cholera. An outbreak that began in the slums of Luanda, the Angolan capital, killed over 2,800 people in 2006, when only 66 percent of Angola’s urban population has access to safe drinking water, according to the UN.

Water shortages in slums could open the door to corruption, conflict and an increased risk of disease, setting off a range of complex humanitarian crises. Many of these factors are already evident and operating in slums across the world, the authors of the HFP report note.


“As with any valuable good, the provision of clean water and sanitation facilities in slums is an attractive target for corruption, greed, collusion and exploitation,” the HFP researchers pointed out.

In areas where there is a lack of accountability and political oversight, “resulting in collusion between government officials and private-sector water providers”, slum dwellers have to pay a very high price for water, and sanitation falls by the wayside.

The result is that the civil society is weakened and ability of slum dwellers and external players to change the system and help the residents out of poverty is curtailed, the HFP report commented.


There is also evidence that water shortages threaten increased violence and conflict, especially in “high-density, multi-ethnic, politically unequal environments of concentrated poverty, as is often found in many slums,” the HFP report said, citing reports of water-related protests and conflicts in Bolivia, Pakistan and India.

Risk of disease

As larger numbers of people move into already crowded areas, they are often forced to live in unacceptably poor sanitary conditions, sometimes even at close quarters with animals, giving rise to opportunities for new disease vectors, noted the report. In slums located in tropical climates, the chances of new forms of diseases evolving are high.

What to do

Randolph Kent, who heads HFP, pointed out that the projections were for 20 to 30 years in the future, “but the idea is to provide enough time to countries to plan ahead”.

He suggested setting up low-tech, cheap service delivery systems – for instance, to provide water, use segmented flexible rubber hoses that can be easily connected and disconnected. The hoses are produced by several independent companies, can be serviced and maintained by unskilled technicians, and offer plenty of design options.

For waste removal, the report suggested an improvement on the traditional chamber pot – use antibacterial plastic buckets that can be fitted with mechanically sealing covers, as on commercial compost bins. The bucket can be carried either by hand or taken by cart to a dumping point like a municipal sewer, then cleaned by hand or at a semi-automatic hot water and bleach station, and delivered to the family for re-use.

[1] The “Urban Catastrophes: The WatSan dimension” report is one of three outputs of a USAID-funded study of key future crisis drivers. The reports will shortly be made public on the HFP website.

Source: IRIN, 23 Mar 2010

Honduras, Tegucigalpa: night-time shifts improve waste collection

A pilot project in Honduran capital Tegucigalpa has increased solid waste collection by 75%, paper El Heraldo reported.

The city’s solid waste division has started to collect garbage at night. Some 30 garbage trucks are collecting waste from 6pm in the evening in selected neighborhoods as part of the first phase of the project. In a second phase, waste collectors will work from 9pm to 5am.

“We are currently working in areas with the highest demand,” Tegucigalpa’s solid waste division manager Rafael Cano was quoted as saying.

The municipality has been collecting up to 1,100t/d, according to the paper.

Source: BNamericas.com [subscription site], 11 Mar 2010

India: Bollywood actor to teach hygiene to school kids

Aamir Khan

After showcasing India through the Incredible India campaign, actor Aamir Khan will be creating awareness about urban sanitation and hygiene issues among schoolchildren.

The government has approached Aamir to be the brand ambassador for the Urban School Sanitation project, a joint initiative of the Human Resource Development Ministry and the Urban Development Ministry, and help save children.

“Yes, we have been approached and have said yes to the initiative,” a spokesperson at Aamir’s office said.

According to Unicef, diarrhoea, which is directly linked to poor sanitation and hygiene, kills more than 1,000 children in India every day.

The project aims to generate awareness among schoolchildren about two key issues — the need for hygienic sanitation, its impact on health and environment and the importance of waste segregation.

The campaign will initially target schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education. Municipal school students will be next.

As part of the programme, the children will be told about hygienic sanitation practices and the ills of defecating in the open. They will also be taught waste segregation. Every student will be given a project on sanitation.

“Children are the best ambassadors of change. Through these children, we hope to take the message across to a wider audience,” the official said.

An urban development ministry official said Aamir was their natural choice for the campaign to be unveiled on April 27. “Children would associate with him very easily. He has done acclaimed films such as Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots. He would be able to get across the message effectively to children in a way that they can comprehend,” said a ministry official.

Source: Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times, 04 Apr 2010

UNEP – Recycling: from e-waste to resources

Recycling: from e-waste to resources, July 2009. UNEP. (pdf, 2.49MB)

The appropriate handling of e-waste can both prevent serious environmental damage and also recover valuable materials, especially for metals. The recycling chain for e-waste is classified into three main subsequent steps: (i) collection, (ii) sorting/dismantling and preprocessing (including sorting, dismantling and mechanical treatment) and (iii) endprocessing.

All three steps should operate and interact in a holistic manner to achieve the overall recycling objectives. The main objectives of e-waste recycling and basic considerations for innovation are:

  • Treat the hazardous fractions in an environmentally sound manner,
  • Create eco-efficient and sustainable business,
  • Recover valuable material maximally and
  • Consider social impact and local context

Nepal, Kathmandu Valley: garbage collectors end strike

The Environment Management Department of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) said that it would take another three days to clear all garbage heaped in the capital valley over the last 12 days. The Department started garbage disposal from 1 February 2010 after the unions of local bodies decided to return to work. Employees had been on strike since 21 January 2010.

“Altogether 60 KMC garbage trucks are being used round the clock,” said Rabin Man Shrestha, chief at the department, adding, “Our staff will be busy in waste removal till the midnight.” Over 4,200 tons of garbage had piled up in the valley during the strike, he informed, adding, some 900 employees were engaged in garbage disposal. When dumping resumed, various organisations and government officials started pressurizing KMC to clear the mess from their respective neighborhoods early on, Shrestha said.

On Monday, calling off their protests, local body union employees said they would not sit for dialogue with CPN-UML-led government and would not allow concerned ministers to enter their office. Similarly, they also decided to continue their protests inside the concerned local body offices by putting black flags in front of the main gates, Ganga Dhar Gautam, president of Local Body Employees’ Union Nepal, said. “We will boycott all the government ministers in the local bodies as part of our protest,” Gautam added.

When KMC garbage carrying vehicles were not operating during the protest of the local body staff, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel jointly disposed 500 metric tons of garbage at Tikathali over the last three days.

Source: The Rising Nepal / NGO Forum, 03 Feb 2010