Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Hariprasad and Mahobul,
 
Both mention that the participation of the population is important when defining issues such as the location of the treatment plants, the type of technology and other issues, since this generates confidence in the local population regarding the sanitation project that is desired to be implemented.
 
To deepen these ideas and learn about casestudies in which the participation of the population was possible, I recommend that you read the “Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies for the Greater Caribbean Region” I attach the link to the document in English.
www.giz.de/de/downloads/giz2022-en-compendium-of-sanitation.pdf
 
Please review the case study of Tolata, a municipality in Bolivia found on page 226. You can then read page 158 which discusses stakeholder engagement. Finally, you can review page 186 which presents the idea of “Plan sanitation systems from the bottom up and choose the right technologies” which may be a viable alternative to combat NIMBY.
 
The idea of planning “starting from the end” helps us define appropriate technologies that adjust to the destination they will have, in this case, the treated wastewater. This is a very important milestone in achieving acceptance and sustainability of sanitation projects, both in the global south and in the rest of the world.
 
I hope this information is useful and interesting for the projects you implement this year, much success in everything you propose!
 
Kind regards,

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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Paola,
Thank you for your enthusiastic response and for appreciating the solid waste management experience in Tarija. It's wonderful to know that our efforts are seen as interesting and useful. 

I completely agree with you that governments play a crucial role in supporting informal collectors of recyclable materials. Their efforts in public policies, investments, and capacity building can recognize the significance of this trade for both society and the environment, leading to improved working conditions for millions of people worldwide.

Your insights on NIMBY in Bolivia are valuable, and it's unfortunate that past negative experiences have influenced perceptions of all sanitation projects. I admire the way Aguatuya is tackling this issue by prioritizing community engagement and emphasizing sustainability in project implementation.  The key factors you mentioned, including socialization with communities, exchanging experiences, strengthening local capacities, and fulfilling agreements, are essential components of successful waste management projects. They ensure that the initiatives have a positive impact on the communities they serve and minimize environmental issues. 

Thank you for sharing the videos about Aguatuya'sexperiences. They provide a vivid understanding of the excellent work your organization is doing, and I'm sure they will inspire others to follow similar paths.

Wishing you and Aguatuya continued success in your endeavours!

Regards
Mahobul
Mahobul Islam
Chair, FSM & CE Working Group, FINISH Mondial Programme
Founder and CEO, Waste and Circular Economy Advisers, Bangladesh; www.wastebd.org
20 years of experiences in sanitation & waste management, bio energy infrastructures, financial inclusion & municipal governance in Bangladesh and overseas (Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia).
Specialized knowledge on Inclusive & Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) planning for developing countries, and institutional capacity development on service model for municipal waste management, MSMEs in waste value chain.
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Hariprasad,
Thank you for your thoughtful post. I agree that the challenges and solutions to municipal waste treatment plants (MWTPs) in the Global South are crucial to understand. As you mentioned, the transport and treatment of liquid waste is negligible in many parts of the world, and there is a need for a significant focus on centralized or decentralized treatment systems.

I also agree that it is important to consult with the local population before implementing an MWTP. This includes discussing the location, technology, and mode of operation of the plant, as well as the potential impacts on the community. By taking the time to build trust and understanding with the local population, we can increase the chances of success for the project.

You mentioned that the failure of earlier MWTPs has created a negative impact on people's mind, leading to widespread NIMBY protests. This is a very real challenge, and it is important to address it head-on. By communicating openly and honestly about the risks and benefits of the project, and by working to mitigate the risks, we can help to overcome this challenge. I believe that the future of MWTPs in the Global South is bright. With careful planning and execution, we can build successful projects that improve the lives of people and protect the environment.

Thank you again for your comments. I look forward to continuing the conversation.
Mahobul Islam
Chair, FSM & CE Working Group, FINISH Mondial Programme
Founder and CEO, Waste and Circular Economy Advisers, Bangladesh; www.wastebd.org
20 years of experiences in sanitation & waste management, bio energy infrastructures, financial inclusion & municipal governance in Bangladesh and overseas (Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia).
Specialized knowledge on Inclusive & Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) planning for developing countries, and institutional capacity development on service model for municipal waste management, MSMEs in waste value chain.

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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Hello,

Thank you for this post. This topic is crucial in understanding the future of FSTPs and STPs in the Global South. This is because the transport and treatment of liquid waste is negligible in the global south and require a significant focus on centralised or decentralised treatment systems depending on the context-specific factors and economic background. 
More importantly, before we discuss the implementation part of the plant, we should also consult the suitable location, the type of technology, the mode of operation and other issues about the local population. In this way, the local populations' faith and belief in the project will be taken care of.
But the failure of earlier FSTP and STP plants built 10 or 15 years ago is a significant obstacle in this line of action. But, proper IEC activities and a decentralised democratic process can lead the way in understanding the contemporary waste management situation and acting accordingly.
The above points are regarding the design and implementation of the plant. But the challenge is also about operation and maintenance, which come at a later stage, and can not be achieved without the constant support of local people. 

The failure of the first plant or first few plants have created a negative impact on people's mind, leading to widespread NIMBY protests..!


Hariprasad
Hariprasad V M
Research Scholar
CTARA, IIT Bombay
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Mahobul,

Thank you very much for your answer! I am very happy to know that you found the solid waste management experience in Tarija interesting and useful.
I agree with you that it is very important that governments make efforts (public policies, investments, capacity building, etc.) to strengthen groups of informal collectors of recyclable materials, thus recognizing an important trade for society and the environment and promotes better working conditions for millions of people around the world.
Thank you for sharing your experience, your ideas and starting this debate.

I have also read the study shared by Rochelle and I thank her very much for sharing this information. Much more is learned from failures than from successes and it is very important to rescue those experiences in order to learn from them.
In Bolivia, NIMBY is a frequent phenomenon because there are experiences of sanitation infrastructures that are not well operated and that bring environmental problems (bad odors, insects, rodents, etc.) to neighboring communities. These bad experiences are recorded in the collective unconscious and are then associated with all existing sanitation projects. It is a bad image that must be fought every day.

Aguatuya (www.aguatuya.org), the institution where I work, strives to avoid these problems by addressing these key factors:

1. Socialization with the communities before the implementation of the projects: Meetings are held in which the characteristics of the projects are explained.
2. Exchanges of experiences are also carried out with similar projects in other regions so that they learn about the environmental impact of the projects.
3. The projects that are implemented always have a strong sustainability component, especially with the strengthening of local capacities for the operation and maintenance of infrastructures, to prevent them from being abandoned and generating environmental problems.
4. Fulfillment of agreements with the communities: it is important to be very clear about the benefits that these projects can bring to the communities and comply with them, for example, in the municipalities of Cliza and Tolata the communities benefit from the treated water and dried sludge from wastewater treatment plants to irrigate crops and green areas in dry seasons.

I share some videos in Spanish about these experiences:

Municipio de Cliza, 100% aguas residuales tratadas en 10 años
 

REÚSO DEL AGUA - PTAR Villa El Carmen, Cliza - Testimonio sobre el reúso del agua
 

Planta de tratamiento de lodos fecales en Cliza
 

Plantas de tratamiento de aguas residuales en Cliza y Capinota


Gestión de lodos con enfoque de reúso y recuperación de nutrientes en Montero
 

Servicios de saneamiento sostenibles para El Alto, con enfoque de reúso y recuperación de nutrientes
 

Thank you for sharing your documents and experiences, good luck!
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Rochelle Holm,
Thank you for bringing up the topic of the failure of a municipal waste treatment plant in Mzuzu, Malawi. It's important to acknowledge and understand the challenges and obstacles faced in waste management projects, even in low-income countries.

Thank you for sharing the study and the link to the article. It will undoubtedly be a valuable resource for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding waste management in low-income countries like Malawi.
Best regards,
Mahobul
Mahobul Islam
Chair, FSM & CE Working Group, FINISH Mondial Programme
Founder and CEO, Waste and Circular Economy Advisers, Bangladesh; www.wastebd.org
20 years of experiences in sanitation & waste management, bio energy infrastructures, financial inclusion & municipal governance in Bangladesh and overseas (Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia).
Specialized knowledge on Inclusive & Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) planning for developing countries, and institutional capacity development on service model for municipal waste management, MSMEs in waste value chain.
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Paola,
Thank you for your informative and insightful reply. I am very interested to learn about the integrated solid waste management projects that have been implemented in Bolivia with the support of international cooperation.
I agree with you that the collaboration between the government and the private sector is essential for the success of recycling initiatives. I believe that the model experiences that you have shared are a valuable resource for other countries that are looking to improve their waste management systems.
I am particularly interested in the project in Tarija that promoted the inclusion of groups of recyclers in the municipal waste management system. This is a great example of how the government can work with informal waste collectors to improve the efficiency and sustainability of waste management.
I would like to thank you again for sharing your experience. I believe that your insights will be helpful to others who are working to improve waste management in their communities.
Sincerely,
Mahobul
P.S. I have watched the videos that you shared and I found them to be very informative. I am particularly impressed by the work that is being done in Tarija to promote the circular economy. I believe that this is a model that can be replicated in other countries.
Mahobul Islam
Chair, FSM & CE Working Group, FINISH Mondial Programme
Founder and CEO, Waste and Circular Economy Advisers, Bangladesh; www.wastebd.org
20 years of experiences in sanitation & waste management, bio energy infrastructures, financial inclusion & municipal governance in Bangladesh and overseas (Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia).
Specialized knowledge on Inclusive & Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) planning for developing countries, and institutional capacity development on service model for municipal waste management, MSMEs in waste value chain.
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

We also talk about the failure of a  municipal waste treatment plant in Malawi in this piece:
Holm, R. H., Chunga B. A., Mallory, A., Parker, A. and Hutchings, P. A qualitative study of NIMBYism for waste in smaller urban areas of a low-income country, Mzuzu, Malawi. Environmental Health Insights, 2021, 15, pages 1-11. DOI: 10.1177/1178630220984147  journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1178630220984147

Abstract (added by moderator PCP) 
When waste management infrastructure is built, there can be resistance from the local affected populations, often termed the Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) phenomenon. This study aims to understand the forms of resistance that may develop in such contexts, focusing on 2 solid waste and 1 liquid waste management site within Mzuzu City, Malawi. At the newest solid waste site, community resistance had grown to the extent that the site was reportedly destroyed by the local community. Interviews and observations of the sites are complemented by examining historic and recent satellite images. It was found that, at the new solid waste site, community engagement had not been conducted effectively prior to construction and as part of ongoing site operations. This was compounded by poor site management and the non-delivery of the promised benefits to the community. In contrast, at the liquid waste site, the community could access untreated sludge for use as fertilizer and were happier to live within its vicinity. While NIMBYism is a frustrating phenomenon for city planners, it is understandable that communities want to protect their health and well-being when there is a history of mismanagement of waste sites which is sadly common in low-income settings. It is difficult for government agencies to deliver these services and broader waste management. In this study, an unsuccessful attempt to do something better with a legitimate goal is not necessarily a failure, but part of a natural learning process for getting things right.
Rochelle Holm, Ph.D., PMP
Mzuzu (Malawi)
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Greetings Mahobul,
 
The information you share about waste management in Bangladesh is very interesting, especially because of the public-private approach it presents.
 
I would like to contribute to your experience with another way of addressing this issue, through integrated solid waste management projects financed by international cooperation.
 
Bolivia is a country with 11 million inhabitants. According to the document "Solid waste management market in Bolivia", from the Economic and Commercial Office of the Spanish Embassy in La Paz: "Bolivia annually generates 1.7 million tons of waste, of which 55 2% are organic, 22.1% are recyclable waste (paper, plastic, glass, metal) and the remaining 22.7% is non-recyclable garbage.” This tells us that almost 80% of the waste produced in Bolivia can be transformed. However, we only recycle 4% of the usable fraction of waste.
 
It is necessary to increase the percentage of use of recyclable and organic waste, in order to promote the circular economy and reduce the negative impact on the environment of the final disposal of recyclable material and organic mixed with the waste fraction.
 
In this line, the Swiss cooperation and the Swedish Cooperation in Bolivia, implemented integrated solid waste management projects. With the support of Swiss cooperation, the institution of which I am a part, Aguatuya, implemented a project in growing cities of Cochabamba. Thanks to this project, the capacities of municipal technicians were strengthened, the readaptations of final waste disposal sites were supported so that they have the necessary infrastructure to compost organic waste and manage recyclable materials. In addition, the service was adapted so that it performs the differentiated collection of waste that must be separated at source. For this reason, many socialization and environmental education actions were also carried out to promote separation at source.
 
In this case, the municipality carries out the differentiated collection and is in charge of composting the organic waste in a composting center. Regarding the fraction of recyclables, the municipality is in charge of separating the different recyclable materials, compressing them in baling machines, storing them and selling them periodically to private recycling companies that are in charge of incorporating this material into the production cycle.
 
A few years later, this project was replicated in the city of Tarija, with the support of Swedish cooperation. In this case, it was promoted that the management of recyclables be worked through an alliance between the municipal service and an association of women who collect recyclable waste. The experience was very interesting, as this group of women who worked informally was strengthened. The women of this association indicate that they have doubled their income since they work organized and in alliance with the municipal government.
 
Returning to the points that you mentioned as key factors for the success of municipal recycling plants, we see that with the support of different international cooperation’s that work in the area, these points can also be effectively addressed:
  • Strengthening the capacities of municipal technicians and groups of urban recyclers.
  • The promotion of groups of recyclers so that they form formal associations and generate inter-institutional links with municipal governments.
  • Dissemination and education actions to promote separation at source with the population. This creates a constant source of recyclable material for the supply chain.
  • Access to cooperation financing allows municipalities to address waste management problems more solidly.
I understand that the collaboration between the government and the private sector is very important to ensure the success of the vast majority of recycling initiatives, not only in Bangladesh, but also in Bolivia and in the world.

However, many times, the first step is the most difficult, due to the great amount of uncertainty involved in investing in a relatively new area such as the circular economy.
 
I believe that having model experiences that have been implemented with cooperation and that can present a system that works is a way of promoting the vision that the circular economy and the recycling industry are not only environmentally sustainable but also economically attractive.
 
I share some materials regarding the shared experiences, I am very sorry to have this material only in Spanish.
 
Inclusión municipal de grupos de recicladores en Tarija
-

- www.aguatuya.org/documento/143
 
Sistematización del proyecto Basura Cero en Tarija

www.aguatuya.org/documento/142
 
Gestión integral de residuos sólidos en el Valle Alto de Cochabamba

 
 Thanksfor sharing your experience,
 
Greetings,
 
Paola Rodríguez
institutional Communicator
Aguatuya 
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Elka,
Thank you for your message, and I'm glad to hear that you found the information on solid/liquid waste management valuable. You're absolutely right that solid waste management is a growing problem in cities, especially with the rapid rate of urban growth in the region.
To clarify the relation between private and municipal waste recycling plants, as well as other private interventions, let me provide you with some insights. In many cases, municipalities are responsible for waste management within their jurisdiction. They typically establish and operate municipal waste management systems, which include collection, transportation, and disposal of waste.
However, due to the magnitude of the waste management challenge, many municipalities collaborate with private entities to enhance their waste management capabilities. This collaboration can take various forms. One common approach is to engage private companies in the collection and transportation of waste. These companies often provide specialized equipment and expertise to efficiently collect and transport waste from households and businesses to designated disposal sites or recycling facilities.
Private interventions in waste management can also involve the establishment and operation of recycling plants. These plants focus on processing and recycling different types of waste materials to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills or incinerators. Private recycling plants may work in partnership with municipal authorities, where the municipalities provide support through policies, regulations, or incentives to encourage recycling activities.
Furthermore, some municipalities may outsource the entire waste management process to private entities, including collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal. This can be done through public-private partnerships (PPPs) or contractual arrangements, where private companies take on the responsibility of managing the entire waste management system on behalf of the municipality.
The relationship between private and municipal waste management entities can vary depending on local circumstances, regulations, and resources. Cooperation and coordination between these entities are crucial for effective waste management. Municipalities often play a supervisory role, ensuring that private interventions align with their waste management goals, environmental regulations, and overall public interest.
I hope this clarifies the connection between private and municipal waste recycling plants and other private interventions in waste management. If you have any further questions or need additional information, please don't hesitate to ask.
Best regards,
Mahobul
www.linkedin.com/in/mahobul/
Mahobul Islam
Chair, FSM & CE Working Group, FINISH Mondial Programme
Founder and CEO, Waste and Circular Economy Advisers, Bangladesh; www.wastebd.org
20 years of experiences in sanitation & waste management, bio energy infrastructures, financial inclusion & municipal governance in Bangladesh and overseas (Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia).
Specialized knowledge on Inclusive & Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) planning for developing countries, and institutional capacity development on service model for municipal waste management, MSMEs in waste value chain.
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Re: Why municipal waste treatment plants fail to operate: challenges and solutions..

Dear Mahobul
Thank you for sharing this valuable information on solid waste management. It is a growing problem in Latinamerican cities wich also have rapid  growth rate. 
I would like though a clarification on the relation between the private and municipal waste recycling plants, or other private interventions.
Regards
Elka Villarroel
SuSanA Latinoamerica Forum Moderator
AGUATUYA (SKAT Foundation financial support SIRWASH 2023)

Calle Nicolás Ortiz no. 33 (a media cuadra de la Av. Calampampa)
Tel (591) 4 424 2164 Casilla 6264
Cochabamba – Bolivia

Siguenos:
www.susana.org/en/mailinglist-latinoamerica
www.aguatuya.org
www.facebook.com/aguatuya
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