Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas (Thematic discussion by SuSanA India Chapter)

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Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas (Thematic discussion by SuSanA India Chapter)

Background
India has 250,000 Gram Panchayats consisting of around 650,000 villages. Around 64.6 per cent of the population lives in rural areas and are governed by the Gram Panchayats. Taking forward the work done under Swachh Bharat Mission I, the second phase SBM II consolidates the gains.
 
One of the aspects is solid and liquid waste management (SLWM). Here, solid waste management (SWM) is critical for improving liquid  waste management since mismanaged solid waste is a major contributor to choked drains and treatment systems. Rural solid waste contains organic waste and inorganic waste in the form of kitchen waste, paper, plastic, textiles and agricultural refuse.
 
SWM in rural areas remains a major problem due to the lack of proper waste collection, treatment and reuse facilities and services. There are issues with economies of scale, access to markets for recycled products and funds flows. Management of solid waste in rural areas is necessary for environmental sanitation and improving the quality of lives. The approach under SBM II is infrastructure-led but there are many other issues that need addressing for effective SWM.
 
The SWM eco-system includes behaviour change for effective segregation, market linkages for the sale of compost, the economies of scale, formal or informal management systems, institutional arrangements to ensure sustainability, financing and convergence between different departments.
 
Therefore, a sustainable SWM and resource recovery system demands several factors to be considered including the technical, social, legal, environmental, and economical factors. This system has to have affordable, long-term and cost-effective, efficient solutions for all the solid waste that is generated in the target area.
 
The SBM Guidelines on SLWM
SLWM is one of the key components of Swachh Bharat Mission –Gramin Phase II (SBM II). To implement SLWM initiatives, ownership at the grassroot level and community involvement at all stages is an imperative. Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) and Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) interventions ought to focus on creating demand for a sustainable system by communities that in turn leads to better services. This in turn, should lead to setting up systems for waste disposal in a way that it has a demonstratable impact on the rural population. The community and panchayat have to be motivated to understand the need of SWM and, therefore,  come forward and mandate such a system, which they can operate and maintain in the long run.
 
Awareness and education campaigns should aim for panchayat officials, elected representatives, schools, non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) working in villages and the public. Under the guidelines, the GP representatives are responsible for the design, implementation,  operation and maintenance (O&M) of SWM systems with the support from district and state governments. Mechanisms for involving third parties in the construction and management activities by the GP are also available. In such cases, absolute clarity pertaining to the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders in managing SWM systems is needed. Community contributions and appropriate user charges for sustainable SWM initiatives can be considered.
 
Financing SWM under the SBM-G
Funds for SWM projects under SBM-(G) are provided by the central and state governments, which if required, can be supplemented by  dovetailing funds from other programmes and sources such as:
·       Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS);
·       Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme (MPLADS);
·       Member of Legislative Assembly Local Area Development scheme (MLALADS);
·       The 15th Finance Commission;
·       Corporate Social Responsibility contributions;
·       Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK);
·       Donors; and
·       Programmes of other ministries and departments.
 
The maintenance cost for the first five years can be included as part of the project cost.
 
Setting up sustainable SWM in Rural Areas
It is important that sustainable SWM systems are set-up and implemented for all rural areas to ensure that all solid waste is collected, segregated at primary source and processed/disposed of in a proper manner with minimum impact on the environment. The system also should aim to reduce the amount of waste generated, through awareness raising and education of the population, as well as maximising recycling, processing and upcycling.
 
There are several good examples of sustainable SWM systems and resource recovery across India. For instance, in Punjab, solid waste from the water treatment plant in Jalandhar city is reused in preparation of plant nurseries. Plants from this nursery are distributed to nearby towns and villages. With these efforts, surroundings of Sultanpur Lodhi have turned into a greenbelt.
 
This thematic discussion aims to bring forth such examples of sustainable SWM systems across the country, and to serve as a guiding light to those who want to clean their villages but do not know where to start or what are the different aspects to setting up SWM systems and how to make them sustainable. We are seeking answers to the following questions:
·       How would you mobilise the community to demand better and sustainable SWM systems in rural areas to ensure preparation and participation? Please provide examples from your experience of BCC and IEC approaches and activities that have worked?
·       How would you plan for setting up sustainable SWM systems, and what are the critical factors to be considered while planning
for the same? What are the components of such a system?
·       How do you organise and coordinate activities among different agencies for sustainable SWM systems?

This thematic discussion is being facilitated by Pramod Dabrase. It will be open for comments for 3 weeks, till 9 September. We hope to receive your responses and have a vibrant discussion.
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Re: Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas (Thematic discussion by SuSanA India Chapter)

Hello SuSanA India Colleagues,
I am pleased to facilitate this very important discussion on Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas. While working across the lengths and breadths of the country for over a decade, I have witnessed the simplicities and complexities in the way solid waste is been managed and can be managed.

The scale (Gram Panchayat OR Village) at which this has to be managed may sound micro, but in reality; it is not practically possible do it at micro level, particularly for dry waste and hazardous waste. Biodegradable waste on the other hand has to be managed locally. Dry waste and hazardous waste constituents of the solid waste hardly have any solutions locally and are highly dependent on external linkages including markets, industries, manpower, institutions, finances, technologies, etc. It has therefore becomes imperative for authorities and key stakeholders to facilitate appropriate planning, implementation, management and operational arrangements at higher governance levels (clusters, block, district, etc).

On the other hand, majority of the Gram Panchayats and even the districts have limited capacities required for addressing various challenges around solid waste management including planning, technology, operation and maintenance needs. The support system including support organizations, technical experts, NGOs and other agencies with adequate and relevent subject understanding is another major challenge. Even more important and challenging is the procurement and tendering policies and processes to hire these agencies.

In spite of these challenges, number of islands of success in a number of villages, Gram Panchayats, districts, towns and cities have demonstrated ways and means that can possibly lead to sustainable solid waste management. This however would require much serious efforts, innovations at all levels.

I would deliberately not write much at this stage and request fellow SuSanA colleagues/ field practitioners/ governments officers to share their valuable experiences with examples (where possible), and enrich collective learning so that the country’s rural solid waste scenario could be improved.
 
Best wishes,
Pramod Dabrase
Ex National Coordinator (National Policy Guidelines on SLWM for Rural India - ADB & MDWS, 2012-14)
Director, CSEDI LLP, Navi Mumbai
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  • nityajacob
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Re: Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas (Thematic discussion by SuSanA India Chapter)

Posting on behalf of Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group

Environment Support Group has been involved in initiating resilient and sustainable structural reforms in waste management through field, policy and legal interventions for over two decades now.  Our work,  primarily based out of Bangalore metropolitan area (14 million) and  Karnataka State, is in coordination with similar efforts nationwide. We work closely with trade unions advancing labour, occupational and health rights of those handling waste, and we also work with vulnerable communities suffering serious contamination due to waste disposal, to ensure their Rights to Health, Clean Environment, Life and Livelihoods is upheld.

Overall our approach is to consider prevailing waste management as emblematic of the nature of prevailing governance which we find is  centralised and corporatised, with weak (or no) democratic participation, and such factors constitute a major reason for the prevailing woeful state of affairs – in ‘waste management’ as it is with municipal and rural governance. In the background note below, we provide details of our ongoing efforts, particularly those centred around a Public Interest Litigation before the Karnataka High Court ( WP 46523/2012 , connected with WP 24739/2012).

You can read the full details at this link .
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  • GVBBSR
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Re: Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas (Thematic discussion by SuSanA India Chapter)

 Before coming to specific answers to the questions raised, I would like to submit a few general observations based on Gram Vikas’ work in village of Odisha around community-managed sanitation and hygiene. Solid and liquid waste management is a key aspect of this work. The first step to ensure sustainability is to be able to develop approaches, programmes and monitoring tools that suit the specific rural contexts. From our experience we are able to delineate four parameters around which villages can be categorised.1.     Nature of location - peri-urban, rural, remote rural2.     Density of population - high, medium, low (often co-terminus with the nature of location, but there are exceptions)3.     Nature of local markets - highly integrated with urban market trends, on way to integration, still comparatively low integration4.     Dependence on natural resources for livelihoods - low, reducing, still high If these variability factors are brought in at the design stage itself, we will be able to devise more appropriate work strategies.

·      How would you mobilise the community to demand better and sustainable SWM systems in rural areas to ensure preparation and participation? Please provide examples from your experience of BCC and IEC approaches and activities that have worked? All our work in the villages is led by one or the other village level institutions. The Village Development Committee, consisting of representatives from all households in the village leads the effort and owns it. The work on sanitation and hygiene are actively taken up by women’s groups, children’s groups and adolescent groups. For solid waste management, the approach taken was to focus almost entirely on household-level segregation as the first step. This helped in creating strong in-situ evidence for each household on the kind of waste they were generating. This also helped in creating discipline in ensuring that wet, bio-degradable waste is not thrown out with other waste materials. The household level work was carried out through meetings with the different institutions and through volunteers from these groups conducting door-to-door campaigns. In doing these, we adopted different key messages for different types of villages. For thickly populated villages with very limited free open space and larger volumes of non-bio wastes, we mobilised the villages to work closely with the Gram Panchayats to provide for waste collection/processing facilities. In two cases, Gram Vikas supported clusters of villages to set up these facilities as a demonstration. In such cases, the source segregation is done in a more nuanced manner.

 In remote areas, with low population density and availability of more open spaces, the strategy has been to avoid littering of waste in public spaces. The collected waste is disposed of by the village through burning or landfills. This is done in places where it is not economically viable to generate any returns from sale of these waste items. ·      How would you plan for setting up sustainable SWM systems, and what are the critical factors to be considered while planning for the same? What are the components of such a system? A sustainable SWM system is one where the costs of waste management is borne by the returns generated from processing and sale of waste. We estimate that by the fourth of fifth year, such resource generation will have to be at least a 50% of the cost of the operations and maintenance of the system. Government subsidies or user fees may cover the remaining part. The fixed capital for the system has to be paid by government. Otherwise, the O&M costs will become very prohibitive. Finding the appropriate scale to set up centralized systems is another challenge. In many parts of coastal Odisha, the four or five Gram Panchayats together can form a viable unit. But in large tracts, any centralized facility will not be easily viable, as the unit of operations for such facilities will be villages spread over more a CD Block or more and involving distances of more than 30-40 kilometres in one direction. In such cases, far more decentralized options will be needed. ·      How do you organise and coordinate activities among different agencies for sustainable SWM systems? The current focus on SWM in the Swachh Bharat Mission-2 is paving way for a very centralized, top-down, fund utilization-driven approach to SWM planning. This is resulting in very standardized solutions being thrust from the top. There needs to be far more coordination of local stakeholders – Panchayat Samitis (Block level PRI), Gram Panchayats, voluntary groups, trader/business lobbies, non-government organisations and local colleges/schools – for developing any meaningful solution. Funds should be allocated for achieving results and not based on a standard approach to providing inputs. 
Gram Vikas
Odisha
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  • Hemalraj
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Re: Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas (Thematic discussion by SuSanA India Chapter)

How would you mobilise the community to demand better and sustainable SWM systems in rural areas to ensure preparation and participation?
  • The community could be mobilized through engaging them from needs assessment to monitoring for SWM systems to work sustainably.
  • The identification of sites of generation of waste, open dumps and disposal sites through community transect walk.
  • The lifestyle changes of rural populace and practices around solid waste are to be brought forth through group meetings with elders and opinion leaders.
  • The community cleanliness campaigns of public places should be taken up quarterly to provide sustained movement for litter free villages.
  • To hammer continuous SBCC messages around linkages with health and solid waste management system. The promotion of waste collection, segregation and scientific disposal to visual cleanliness and sustainable environment through innovative songs and street plays.
Please provide examples from your experience of BCC and IEC approaches and activities that have worked? DONATE HERE
  • The incentivization of people and businesses towards segregation and scientific disposal of solid waste.
  • Dis-incentivization of waste dumping in open and waste burning through penalties.
  • Provision of community composting spaces for animal waste and agricultural produce waste.
  • Community cleanliness campaigns through children has enabled empowering families. 
  • Increasing frequency and engagement of households for waste collection through public addressal systems.
·       How would you plan for setting up sustainable SWM systems, and what are the critical factors to be considered while planning
for the same? What are the components of such a system?
  • Mapping and identification of community dumping sites, public places with litter, sanitation workers, existing practices, finances and infrastructure to develop SWM systems.
  • Quantification of the type of waste generated in the village at household, institution and community level.
  • Identifying and brain storming the technologies to be feasible in local context for collection, segregation, treatment and disposal.
  • Market linkages with recyclers, scrap dealers, nursery and organic farmers for sale of treated and segregated waste to inculcate business models.
·       How do you organize and coordinate activities among different agencies for sustainable SWM systems?
  • Needs assessment and planning:  PRIs, local NGOs, youth groups, SHGs and Sanitation workers are to be brought on common platform to understand village level systems, practices, traditions and planning by SBM-G staff. Integrate with existing GPDP with capacity building and consultations.
  • Source level segregation and treatment: Converging of 15th FC funds and MGNREGS to develop facilities of dustbins, compost pits and biogas plants. SBM-G to support SBCC activities to promote segregation and treatment at source level.
  • Waste collection and cleanliness: Support of waste collection vehicles and community compost pits from SBM-G , 15th FC and own funds to promote regular collection of waste. Developing route plan for optimized waste collection with PRI stakeholders.
  • Segregation: Identification of sanitation workers and ragpickers to support the solid waste management providing them capacities and ownership through SBM-G and funding through 15th FC, own funds and business model. 
  • Treatment: Infrastructure for segregation and treatment can be developed from support with SBM-G and MGNREGS to promote treatment of organic waste and storage for non-biodegradable waste.
  • Market Linkages and institutional partnerships: Convergence with Agriculture department and MNRE to promote treatment of and sale of organic waste. Linkages with scrap dealers, recyclers and road construction companies for segregated waste disposal. 
Hemalraj Solanki
WASH Consultant
UNICEF Gujarat Field Office
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8511640053
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Re: Sustainable Solid Waste Management Systems in Rural Areas (Thematic discussion by SuSanA India Chapter)

Hi all,

In 2010, while moderating the Water Community of Solution Exchange, we had conducted a discussion on the impact idol immersions have on water and the environment in general. I thought it may be relevent in the context of this discussion and the fact this is the season when many hundreds of thousands of idols are immersed across India.

The summary of the discussion was:
Every year, several tonnes of religious wasteare dumped in rivers and ponds in India. Idols, flowers and othermaterial used in ceremonies are discarded at the end of the festive period. Idols are painted, usually with paints that have heavy metals; when they are immersed these paints foul the water with a chemical concoction that is hard to treat. Additionally, people bundle flowers and other stuff used in the religious ceremonies into plastic bags that they throw into rivers.
 
The paints contain mercury, lead, cadmium andother heavy metals. The paints form a layer on the surface of the water that
reduces the dissolved oxygen levels. The situation is worsened by the flowers and other organic debris.
 
There are many ways to minimize pollutionfrom this religious waste. The first is to identify and inventorise the pollutants – water quality variations, material used in the idols, number of immersions, immersion points and the stakeholders. The second is to build a database of water quality for analytical advocacy, and develop a water quality monitoring mechanism for horizontal flows of information.
 
People and agencies working to minimizepollution from idol immersion can meet with the local religious leaders and other stakeholders to work out a plan. As part of the plan, they can identify immersion points and construct separate sites at suitable locations; these can be separated from the main river or lake so the paints and other chemicals do not pollute the main water body. An example is the cremation ground at Nigambodh Ghat, Delhi,where there is a water tank for washing bodies. The local municipality can process the water to remove the pollutants in this isolated site before letting it into the river or lake. They can seek specialist advice if the pollutant load is too high for them to treat. The authorities should take care to site these immersion points downstream of the intake points for the water treatment
plants, else it will defeat the purpose.
 
What is critical here is a well-conceivedpublicity campaign to educate people about the pollution from idols. At the immersion sites, NGOs and authorities can provide bins for people to throw flowers and other used prayer material. They can create a people’s workforce to
clean the area as quickly as possible after the event, or employ local ragpickers, and totally ban the public from throwing plastic into the water.
 
In [url=#CE_KERALA]Kerala[/url], hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit theSabarimala temple every year. People throw their old clothes in the River Pampa nearby, and also defecate on its banks even though the authorities have provided toilets. The river is the only source of drinking water local people.
Recently, some volunteers have set up wire meshes to stop the clothes from flowing down the river. This is one example of volunteers and authorities working together to reduce pollution.
 
Along with this end-of-pipe approach, theauthorities can stipulate quality standards for the idols. They can specify the  material the idols will be made of and the type of paints allowed. For example, they can permit only the use of degradable material for making idols and natural colours for painting them. Along with this, they can specify the regulatory measures for preventing use of non-conforming idols. The local
administration can reduce the pollution from these idols by removing them as soon as possible. To be successful, the authorities need to precede this enforcement drive by an awareness campaign.
 
For example, during Ganesh Chaturthi in [url=#CE_VV]Delhi[/url], a voluntaryorganization worked with religious leaders and local authorities to ensure the
floral offerings are composted instead of being thrown into the Yamuna River.As part of the campaign, the NGO ran an awareness and participation for the youth and identified practices that would not hurt people’s religious sentiments. Another campaign in Delhicalled the [url=#CE_DA]Eco-Visarjan Campaign[/url], advocated the use ofclay idols painted with natural colours.
 
In Hyderabad,people immerse idols in the Hussain Sagar lake. The clay content of idols is of less concern than the paint used to colour them and plastic bags. Here again, the authorities need to work with idol makers to use vegetable dyes, and with people to discourage them from throwing plastic bags into the lake. In 2009, the West Bengal Department of Environment took up the idol issue with paint manufacturers, who agreed to produce only lead-free paints; the local prayer organizers also bought idols coloured with these paints. The municipality also
provided many dust-bins for people to throw their solid waste; the river was noticeably less polluted.
 
In Pune, during the 10-day Ganesh festival,the municipality provided large bins along the river for people to throw flowers and other offerings. They also provided large water tanks for idol immersion. They also ran an awareness campaign to inform people about these facilities, instead of following their regular practice of immersing idols in the river.
 
In [url=#CE_KARNATAKA]Karnataka[/url], the state pollution control board hasissued guidelines on immersion of idols in water bodies. These suggest immersions should be conducted in the sea 500 metres beyond the low-tide level, and the public should be encouraged to buy idols made of clay and painted with natural colours. The Bangalore municipalcorporation has created an artificial pond near the Halsuru Lakefor idol immersion.
 
Clay idols are ideal for reducing thepollutant load. These can be immersed even at home in a bucket. As they are unbaked and painted with vegetable colours, they melt in the water and then poured into the garden soil.
 
Organizations or authorities who want totackle the problem of water pollution caused by idol immersion have to begin the process with an intensive public education campaign. They can work with local religious leaders and people who organize prayer meetings or events to encourage them to use only clay idols painted with vegetable colours. With them, they can identify suitable immersion sites that can be specially created ponds. The organizers can provide bins to collect dry waste like flowers and other left-over material. Once the immersion event is over, the NGO or authorities can deploy volunteers to collect and dispose material, and arrange for suitable water treatment before allowing the water to enter the river, pond or lake.
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