Mar 21, 2011

Give it a try

Proper solid waste management can be a reality if there is a collective will

By Erum Ashfaq

Proper disposal of solid waste in urban areas is a big issue. With the increase in population, cities encounter a host of problems, solid waste management (SWM) being one of them. Implications of scattered solid waste are many. Developed nations have managed their solid waste by improved collection and disposal techniques.

Less developed countries are generally short of finances, since their priorities are related to the provision of basic necessities and utilities to people. Therefore, the SWM remains lower on priority list. As a result, the entire cites remain crowded with uncollected waste, thus deteriorating living conditions.

Punjab Municipal Services Improvement Project (PMSIP) through Punjab Municipal Development Fund Company (PMDFC) in collaboration with World Bank have initiated a project of solid waste management in Chiniot. The key components of this project are: 1. Equipment, 2. Training, and, 3. sanitary landfill site.

For the purpose, the TMA officials were sent to Korea (worldÕs largest landfill site is in Korea) to learn best practices in the field of solid waste management in the world. A sanitary land ill site is a place where solid waste, generated by the people, is buried between layers of soil and other materials to reduce contamination of the surrounding land.

The landfill sides and bottom are clay lined to keep pollutants from leaking into the soil and water. An approach road is constructed for efficient maneuvering of waste trucks from collection points to the landfill site. The site, a 15 acre land, is a dumping ground of solid waste of Chiniot city for the last ten years.

To dispose of solid waste, preliminary requirement is its adequate collection. Solid waste management cannot be successful if people do not have knowledge about the disposal mechanism. Therefore, it is important to involve stakeholders, who are to play a vital role in the implementation of the project. Otherwise, heavy investment will go waste unless there is cooperation from the public.

The responsibility may not rest solely with the TMA staff. Therefore, a well-coordinated plan involving all stakeholders will lead to an efficient collection system.

One can make educational institutions and mosques the starting point of campaign. The reason being, youngsters have a great adaptability and acceptance for whatever they learn. Specifically, their teachers greatly influence their views and persuade personality development. Children always follow and abide by what they learn in their school for the rest of their lives.

No solid waste programme can run efficiently if the general public is not aware. The awareness campaign is a step forward in bringing about attitudinal change. It always begins at educating the younger lot, inculcating practices at the very beginning of personality development, and years of follow up. Therefore, solid waste management should be made an integral part of primary syllabus.

The core message should be focused on convincing the house wives through their children for adequately disposing off the solid waste. This little effort would add enormously to the waste collection system.

In our campaign for proper disposal of waste in Chiniot, a total of 2523 students, 258 teachers that were randomly selected were conveyed the message. The average household size in Chiniot is 7 persons, assuming each person representing single household, we get 17,661 persons that actually received the message.

Consequently, 16 mosques were selected from 8 Union Councils, where somewhat 1120 persons were addressed. In the same manner, each UC office was assigned to disseminate the information in their respective jurisdiction at the preliminary stage.

The experience in Chiniot led to varying findings. Most of the people were not aware of the massive sanitary landfill project in their town.

Moreover, the success of SWM project in Chiniot greatly depends on TMA handling of operation and maintenance. For TMA needs, adequate staff, i.e., drivers, operators, sanitary workers be inducted on a priority basis, otherwise heavy investments made on project will go waste.

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