Managing urban waste
HelpO: an NGO committed to conducting Grass root level social welfare programs with the assistance of UNDP Sri Lanka, under the auspices of the Galle Municipal Council, constructed a bio gas plant to dump market waste of the city. Following this project, which was a roaring success, a mechanism was developed whereby, in the grassroots, the villagers themselves got-together and made a small financial contribution for the maintenance of a biogas tank. UNDP simply made the initial investment and allowed the beneficiaries to invest in the maintenance of the plant. Of course Biogas helped minimize the effects of climate change, but for the hapless villagers it saved their land and waterways from harmful waste; provided an excellent organic fertilizer and best of all, produced a cost efficient and profitable fuel. UNDP initiated projects are underway in various parts of the island, addressing solid waste management concerns while also generating an extra income through the bi-products of waste management such as bio fuel and compost manure. Simple composting systems were an effective, low-tech solution to reduce large quantities of waste and generate manure for agriculture. With approximately 60% - 70% of waste being bio-degradable, composting has now become an important component of an integrated waste management process.
According to Dr. Ananda Mallawathanthri, who is UNDP’s Assistant Resident Representative cum Team Leader: Environment, Energy and Disaster Management, the UNDP supported the biogasification of waste at two different levels: i.e. at the community level, and the institutional level. In community thelevel, one bio gas plant was constructed for five to eight neighboring houses, while in the institutional level, biogas plants were constructed in hotels, hospitals, military bases, schools and even prisons. Financial and technical support for some of these community level projects was channeled in directly to NGOs and CBOs by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program.
Solid Waste: a tool for reconciliation
Financial support of the UNDP was also utilized for the implementation of a waste management project to convert banana waste into value added products such as handicraft, paper and fabrics, as a cottage industry among the rural community. Banana, a popular tree that grows freely in tropical climates is valued only for the soft nutritious fruit concealed in its slippery peel. It is widely grown in Sri Lanka as a garden tree and commercially in plantations. Banana waste is now used to create handicrafts and other products such as wall hangings, table mats, handbags, key tags, and even fabrics. Again, solid waste which was once a menace has metamorphosed to a profit generating cottage industry.