SECO MAKING STRIDES WITH WASTE MANAGEMENT IN INDIA
Seco has been making a positive impact on the environment in India thanks to an extensive waste management and education project in the Pune district.
Part of the state of Maharashtra, Pune is home to nearly 10 million people, and the project focusing on decentralized, communityled solid waste management started in the village of Koregaon Bhima, which is home to around 3,500 households and 25,000 people. The village produces around eight tons of solid waste every day, posing a serious challenge to both the local environment and the authorities tasked with preserving it. By backing the project, Seco hoped to identify concrete ways to help the local community and preserve and improve the local environment.
Together with partners CHF India Foundation, the project started in 2016 and instigated waste collection, disposal and recycling efforts, providing training to informal waste collectors and helping them to access social and financial services. The first step was to raise local awareness of the issue and to discuss ways of dealing with the waste generated in the area. Focus groups and local meetings were held to bring together the residents, interest groups and the informal waste collectors who had previously dealt with the problem by recovering materials that could be recycled.
One of the key areas in the initial phase was to highlight the importance and raise awareness of sorting waste by type, which makes it easier to recover and recycle materials which can be used again. Pairs of waste bins have been distributed to 1,200 households in one of the wards of the village. Each household has received one bin for wet waste and one for dry waste, and the waste is then disposed of accordingly, with wet waste sent for composting and dry waste recycled where possible.
Recycling and waste management centers were opened in Koregaon Bhima and they now recycle tons of waste every month, providing direct job and income opportunities for many waste collectors. The project has also introduced low-cost machinery to improve the health and safety conditions for informal waste collectors and thereby creating a better working environment for them. Around 50 volunteers from Seco have been involved with supporting the project.
One of the keys to success is the involvement of the local community. Their understanding of the health and environmental benefits has led to a strong commitment and engagement in the local area. This was illustrated at the recent ground-breaking ceremony for a new composting plant in Koregaon Bhima, which was attended by 40 women from eight different wards in the village. The plant that is now fully operational, features six composting pits, a washroom and an office space, and is located close to a biogas plant.
The project has received a lot of welcome publicity across the Pune region, and other wards and villages are looking at how the various initiatives were instigated and how they can be adopted for their areas.