5.0 Community Approaches to Solid Waste Management
During a period of four years (1986 - 1990) NHDA's Urban Housing Program was very effective in Siddharthapura. Low income households received user rights or land and started to build their houses with permanent building materials on an incremental basis. Community Development Council played a major role linking the NHDA and Colombo Municipal Council with households in the settlement. NHDA recognized the CDC as a main institution for the implementation of the housing program. With limited staff members, NHDA had to implement more than fifty housing schemes in Colombo municipal area from 1986 to 1990. Therefore, NHDA had to leave most of its responsibilities at settlement level in the hands of the community organization. This includes enumeration surveys, monitoring of unauthorized constructions, supervision of contractors' works on land reclamation, land surveys and blocking out, plot allocation, identification of households for housing loans, monitoring of individual private house constructions, on-site relocation, negotiations with government agencies and local authority in order to obtain basic services like water supply, toilet facilities, garbage disposal etc. Because of the government recognition and the CDC's involvement in housing, the CDC remained as the most responsible agency for the people in the settlement even after the completion of the NHDA's housing program.
The UHSP was a success in solving the problem of the land tenure, but not the other problems related to the low level of income, health and environmental management. During the last six years, the CDC have been successful in several ways in obtaining basic services. Most of these services have been obtained through lobbing political authorities, local government agencies and NGOs.
After land regularization and house construction, people did not like to throw household garbage into the canal and on roads because most houses are located away from the canal. Many people were concern about the cleaningness around their newly built houses. Colombo Municipal Council or the NHDA had not introduced any arrangement for household garbage collection and disposal in the settlement.
People started to throw garbage into the canal again in the absence of a garbage disposal system. People who were away from the canal started the habit of throwing garbage on the back alleys which were earmarked for the construction of service lines. Household garbage includes mainly organic materials such as kitchen left outs (vegetable and food) and waste water. It was noticed during the field visits that all recyclable materials such as paper, cans, and glass bottles are recovered by the family members, mainly female members - mother or daughter, for selling to waste buyers. It was observed that waste buyers visit from house to house in this settlement on a regular basis. Uncollected garbage on back alleys had created environmental problems in the settlement. Bad odor, unsightliness, surface and ground water pollution, vector breeding (mosquitoes, flies, rates) unhygienic walk ways, and blockage of drains are some of those problems.
So far the practice in low income settlements are concerned has been the allocation of lands within clusters of houses to build common garbage collection bins. These bins can be considered as primary collection points. Community members or hired people should remove garbage from these bins to the secondary collection points from where municipality collect garbage for final disposal. In many upgraded low income settlements, even though lands are identified and reserved but bins are not constructed to protect garbage from the animal's rampage and to avoid unsightliness. Households do not like lands allocated for common garbage bins close to their houses.
Siddharthapura is one housing project where no single plot of land has been allocated for primary collection points, due to the fact that no household like to have a pile of garbage close to the house. Health warden attached to the municipality in consultation with the municipal district office and the people in the settlement had identified a common space for a secondary collection point on the municipal road at the main entrance to the settlement by the side of the canal during 1991/92 period. Since this is a municipal property, and also it is located on the municipal garbage collection route, people had no objection. This collection point was close to the families who were living along the main road but not for ones who having houses on by-lanes. According to the community, this garbage bin had been used only by a part of the population in the settlement. Until NGO-WSSDS introduced a community managed solid waste disposal system, not only people in the Siddharthapura - `A' but also those in `C' division put their garbage into the secondary collection point identified by the CMC. Due to the difficulities in finding spaces for common garbage bins it had been erected without considering the geographical boundaries of community organizations. After sometimes, this collection point was a big problem to the division `A' people. The size of the garbage bin was smaller than the amount of garbage dumped there by the people. Sometimes municipal service was not very regular. Then it was a nuisance for people in the settlement. Garbage was thrown again into the canal since it was close to the canal.
5.2 Community Management Approach to Solid Waste Problem in Siddharthapura Division - `A'
In 1994, NGO Water Supply and Sanitation Decade Services (NGO-WSSDS) in Sri Lanka was requested by the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Public Utilities to carry out a community infrastructure project in Siddharthapura 'A' division. The purpose of the project was to use NGOs as an intermediary organization and a development partner in implementation, operation and maintenance of basic infrastructure in low income settlements. The NGO-WSSDS has been involved in Community Water Supply and Sanitation projects in rural areas more than a decade. This was the first instance that NGO-WSSDS got involved in a community infrastructure project in an urban area in Colombo.
The introduction of community approaches to manage the solid waste collection and disposal was started as the first activity in Siddharthapura by NGO-WSSDS. The lack of a proper system for solid waste collection and disposal had been identified as a major environmental problem in an action planning workshop
organized by the NGO-WSSDS in the settlement in 1995. The NGO-WSSDS is an organization which promotes participatory approaches in project planning, implementation and management. Community is considered as the key actor in participatory development approaches. The proper management of solid waste was a felt-need recognized by both NGO and CDC.
As the first step to introduce a community management system (CMS) into the Siddharthapura, a participatory community action planning (CAP) workshop was held in the settlement during the latter part of 1995 in order to develop a plan to solve the solid waste management problem. Under the community infrastructure project of the Ministry of Housing this activity had been planned by the NGO as an entry community activity to maintain the people's expectations in the project. Normally community infrastructure projects take a long period of time for the planning and social preparation. Entry community activity is any development work which is implemented by the project at the social preparation phase.
The Community Action Planning (CAP) is one of the community management approaches widely used for urban community development in Sri Lanka. The approach was developed to implement the urban housing program by NHDA in 1985. It is now used by many organizations in Sri Lanka for community development works. 'The approach sees people as the main resource for development rather than as purely an object of the development efforts or as mere recipients of benefits. The objective of the approach is to motivate and mobilize the population of a low income community to take the lead in the planning and implementation of development activities. The role of the government and other intermediary organization is to this process where necessary, but the community is expected, through this process, to develop its ability for self-management and eventually to take its development in its own hands*'.
The vehicle for community action planning is the interaction / partnership workshop which is organized by a partner organization such as NUDA, local authority or a NCO. At such workshops, community members interact with the staff of government and non-governmental organizations. They identify problems, discuss why they are problems to the community, seek solutions together and decide actions for implementation. The community assumes the responsibility to implement the action plan in collaboration with other organizations. This workshop approach can be used both for the development of an integrated development plan for a settlement or to develop a plan for a specific issue such as land, water, sanitation or solid waste management. The key to the workshop is the options and trade-off technique, because a problem may be solved in several ways and each solution may call for different trade-offs. However, selection of options is left entirely to the community.
The workshop had been organized by the NGO-WSSDS for CDC. The relevant government officials from NUDA,CMC and Ministry of Housing, Construction and Public Utilities were also invited. This workshop had been structured basically to identify the following*:
Why solid waste is a problem to Siddharthapura community
What are the options or trade-offs for the problem and
What are the strategies for the implementation of solutions.
At this workshop community had identified a number of reasons for the question of why it is a problem to the community:
* low community priority for solid waste management
* low wiliness of community to participate in waste collection
* low wiliness to keep surrounding of houses clean
* low level of participation in community meeting
* low wiliness to pay for solid waste collection
* lack of recognition for community work by external organizations
* delays in the provision of basic infrastructure by the government
* insufficient space for waste disposal inside housing plots and within the settlement
* unreliable municipal service
* lack of assistance from municipality and
* lack of political support for solid waste management.
This workshop had been useful for the CDC and the NGO to understand social and management problems in solid waste management in the settlement. Secondly, it helped the CDC to realize that the solid waste problem has to be resolved by increasing people's participation in management through :
* improving proper sanitary behaviour
* allowing the people to join the solid waste management by giving contributions in cash, kind and labour to solve perceived problems
* participating in consultation, administration and decision making and
* undertaking certain operational and maintenance responsibilities.
Another important fact that the CDC realized in interaction with Government Organizations and NGO was that the solid waste problem could be solved with a minimum capital and the least external support. Since CMC still thinks that the garbage collection is a prime responsibility of the local authority, NGO-WSSDS perceived opportunities in Siddharthapura within the solid waste problem by introducing a community management system. Community management is a process through which a group develops the capacity to identify its basic interests and organizes to effectively articulate them in a self-reliant fashion, through consensus building with the interests and actions of other groups*. Community management system developed for the solid waste management for Siddharthapura consists of following components:
- Community Action Plan
- Organizational Structure
_ Clear division of responsibilities for each stakeholder (household, small group, core group, CDC, local authority and central government)
- Finance and resource mobilization
CMS operates at the community level. Community had gone through several planning steps at the participatory action planning workshop held at the beginning of the NGO's interaction with this community: examining reality from identification of problems, identifying solutions to think about a better future, defining strategies with resource agencies to achieve community's goals. As in other planning approaches community action plan also creates an organizational structure to implement and monitor the best alternative chosen to make the proposed change.
The discussion on options and trade-offs has to be carried out based on an institutional structure. Such a structure should enable community to group into functional units in order to address shared problems and respond collectively to those problems and they can negotiate with related institutions ( central government agencies, local government bodies, NGOs) and political parties. For solid waste collection and disposal, a four-tier organizational structure was proposed without making any major changes to the existing institutional set up at the community workshop held in Siddharthapura. It is as follows:
- Small Group
- Core Group
- Community Development Council
Two layers of this structure, household and CDC, were existing even prior to the workshop. Other two groups were introduced to increase the community participation in solid waste management. Following chart illustrates the inter relationships among the each unit of the organizational structure.
Household is one or more families living in a housing unit. There are 212 households in the settlement. Household is a member of the small group as well as the CDC. Each household generates about 0.6 - 0.75 kilograms of waste per day. Household is the key actor in community management. It is the responsibility of household to keep the surrounding of their house clean and to attend group meetings organized by the group leader or the CDC. Household must change their sanitary behavior. In certain occasions household should contribute in labor and reasonable amount of money for some environmental management services.
Small Group consists of 4 to 13 households (plots). This has been jointly agreed at the community workshop organized by the NGO. Under the new four-tier organizational structure, NGO-WSSDS with the CDC has formed 19 small groups which represent the total settlement. Important criteria used for the formation of small groups is an amenity shared commonly by a group of families. Each group in Siddharthapura has been organized based on the physical location of houses (a raw of houses faces one access road or a by lane with a back alley ). There are several advantages in the establishing small groups. They are:
- Community representation is proportionately distributed within the settlement (one leader from one cluster of houses, no. of households per cluster vary from 4 to 13 )
- Small number of households are better organized than a larger number
- Competition among the groups to keep their own lane or cluster clean and waste-free leads for better environmental management and
- Small groups can formulate, own and enforce their rules and regulations. eg: matching grant to purchase plastic bins will be available only for those who attend meetings regularly and for those who have already given their contribution in cash: the rule of first come first serve; Garbage should be kept at home until the municipal tractor comes inside their lane.
NGO initially convinced the CDC about the need for a community based management and the advantages of small grouping. In order to form groups, community facilitator of the NGO and the CDC visited each house and explained them about the group formation criteria and its advantages. Importance of maintenance of amenities was highlighted to the community during the house to house visits.
Each group has a leader to present its interest at the core group as well as CDC meetings. Small grouping arrangement has been working in Siddharthapura for the last two years. It is interesting to note here that 11 group representatives out of 19 have been women. Women participation in this settlement is relatively high because they are involved in several other important activities in the project. Mostly women represent the household interest in joining religious ceremonies, attending the CDC meetings and community workshops, participating in land allocations and house construction and so on. As in many other cultures women are responsible for keeping the home and its immediate surrounding clean. The CDC has generally a male dominated traditional leadership. The CDC is more keen on settlement level issues such as delays in the provision of land tenure and major infrastructure rather than household level socio-economic and environmental problems. Women are more interested in the improvement of household level services such as water supply, sanitation, waste collection and disposal. They are the immediate beneficiaries of such improvement. Men are not generally available at home during the day time. When community facilitator visited households to introduce new organizational structure proposed at the workshop women were the main recipient of that information. All most all members in all small groups happened to be women. Therefore, the majority of small group leaders are also women in Siddharthapura.
The roles of the group representatives are to:
- participate in core group and CDC meetings.
- inform his or her group members about the decisions taken at such meetings.
- organize the group for various project development, operational and maintenance activities.
- collect community contribution for project development, and community welfare and cultural activities.
- Liaison between the community and the CDC and other external agencies.
During the last two years, two leaders had left their groups and did not attend their responsibilities. But after realizing the performance of other groups, these two have joined the groups again.
Core group consists of all leaders from small groups. Members of the core group represent the total community and its representation is equally distributed in the project area. More than half of the core group members in Siddhathapura are women. Core group meets very often and discuss the issues related to their group members. Core group meetings are generally called by the CDC and NGO-WSSDS. These meetings sometimes are held as a part of the CDC's monthly meeting.
Community management approaches to solid waste problem in the settlement have emerged, first at the workshop and at core group meetings. Reasons for the solid waste problem and possible solutions drawn at the community action planning workshops organized by the NGO have been put into a action program by the core group. Action program was mainly an understanding between the community groups ( small group, core group and CDC) and the Colombo municipality. Under the action program local authority and the CBO have greed to share responsibilities and contribute in cash and labor to implement a solid waste management plan for Siddhathapura division A. The role of the NGO in the community management plan was important. In order to implement the community management plan, NGO carried out several community workshops, explained the advantages of small community groups by visiting individual households, formed small groups with the CDC and negotiated with the municipal engineers to establish a CBO -Municipal Council arrangement for solid waste collection and disposal.
Understanding about the division of responsibilities among the key players in solid management in community action program are as follows:
- Municipal send a tractor to the settlement twice a week.
- In addition to the public road, municipal agreed to come inside the settlement along four main roads and collect garbage from households.
- Cooperate in clean up campaigns
- Keep waste inside the house until municipal vehicle comes into the settlement.
- Prevent in dumping waste to the secondary collection point, back alleys, or any other place in the settlement or into the canal.
- Bring waste to the municipal vehicle and assist municipal worker to load it.
- Use a plastic container or any other special bin or bags to store household waste for 3 to 4 days.
- Keep house and immediate environment clean
_ Contribute in cash to purchase containers or in voluntary labor in clean up campaigns
- Attend meetings and elect community leaders
_ Give feedback about the community management and act as watch dogs. If a group member breaks the rules agreed by the community or behave against the community management discipline, other members of the group would advice him to support the community management plan by improving his or her sanitary behaviuor and report such things at the core group and CDC meetings.
- Assist community leaders to collect fees.
Community Development Council (CDC)
The CDC has been functioning as the most active CBO in the settlement more than 15 years. It is an annually elected body by the people. Executive committee consists of Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and six committee members. Most of them were traditional leaders. After the introduction of small and core group arrangement some executive committee members have come from small group leadership. Therefore, there is no conflict of interest between the CDC and the core group. Since the CDC has been functioning for long time, always CDC has been the link between community and external organizations and political authorities. The CDC encourages group activities because it makes the CDC's activities easy. Under the community management the CDC plays an important role. Its main responsibilities have been:
- organization of community meetings, clean up campaigns
- link between the community groups and external support organizations - NUDA, CMC, NGOs, Ministry of Housing
- give feedback about development and management program
- exercise political pressure on the municipality and government organizations,
- carry out education and awareness raising
- promote proper sanitation behaviour ( watchdog function )
- Administration - fee collection, keep records and treasury
- mobilize community
First activity started after the formation of small groups was the creation of awareness among the people to change their attitude towards a proper sanitary behaviour. Awareness creation included the organization of small and core group meetings and discussions on solid waste collection and disposal among the group leaders and activities like public meetings to celebrate new community initiatives. NGO has frequent meetings with the CDC and the group leaders. Matters discussed and decisions taken at such meetings are conveyed to the households through inter-personal communication and written materials such as minutes of meetings and information leaflets.
It was observed by the NGO and community groups that households did not have a habit to use a proper container to collect household waste. Therefore, it was decided by the core group on the information given by the NGO to give a plastic container to each household. The container should be large enough to keep 3 to 4 day-household waste inside the house. It should have a cover to close and to prevent from animal rampage and also not have a bad odor. The NGO agreed to pay one half of the cost of containers as matching grant and the core group agreed collect balance money from each individual household. The NGO under the community infrastructure project had obtained an amount of Rs.25,000 from the Ministry of Housing was given to the CDC. The core group has collected Rs.19,900 (Rs. 100 per one from 199 households). Collection of community contribution in cash for a common or a public purpose is not a rare incident in low income settlements. First people have to be informed about the activity and its usefulness to individual families and for the community as a whole, how is it organized and how is the money going to be spent. Leaders in small groups were responsible to inform the people about the NGO - community joint program on purchasing of plastic containers and the new solid waste collection and disposal arrangement with municipality. The CDC has bought 199 containers at a price of Rs. 210 each. Containers had not been bought for 13 families who did not contribute cash.
Bringing 199 colourful plastic containers to the community was a big event. The CDC with the NGO had handed over containers to each household at small ceremony organized at the settlement. They had invited to the officials of CMC, Ministry of Housing and local politicians for this event. The NGO and the CDC used this event to convince household further to improve their proper sanitary habits and also requested supports from the municipal council for their community management plan for solid waste collection and disposal.
As a result of the community management approach introduced by the CDC and NGO-WSSDS, the community of Siddharthapura 'A' division and the Colombo municipality have been managing the solid waste collection and disposal problem successfully over the last two years. Municipal tractor comes to the settlement twice a week. Municipality sends only two labourers - a tractor driver and a labourer. Tractor goes on four roads in the settlement. When the tractor is in the settlement, all households know about it because it goes inside the settlement and people shout. People who see the tractor inside the settlement speak loudly, "kunu, kunu" (kunu means garbage). Shouting is a communication method of the low income people in urban as well as rural areas in Sri Lanka. Message goes to the people very quickly. They bring their garbage to the tractor and help municipal labourer to empty the garbage container into the tractor. Prior to the introduction of community approaches municipality has used heavy vehicles for garbage collection. Such vehicles can not go inside the settlement on narrow roads. Under the community management approach NGO and CDC had successfully negotiated with the municipality to use small tractors which can go on narrow access roads inside the settlement.
Community management approach is being implemented through a participatory process. The CDC and the small groups are responsible for the total project implementation. NGO-WSSDS works as a facilitator to provide services for community mobilization. Unlike a government sponsored service delivery arrangement the individual families and the CBO takes responsibility of solid waste management. Activities being carried out by NGO-WSSDS in the project are:
- Training on community management approaches
- Community mobilization and
- Local partnership building for environmental management
Community training is considered as an essential element of the community management process. Most of the training has been given to the community are on-job. The NGO has used each core group meeting as a training session to discuss the community management issues and to give opportunities to learn various skills -organizational, leadership and management.
Community mobilization of this project includes the awareness creation, training and the people's participation in planning, implementation, operational aspect of the solid waste management. Solid waste management is considered as a part of an integrated community development process.
The four-tier community organizational structure is used for other activities in the settlement such as community infrastructure building, savings and credit, youth and children's activities. Each household has to contribute about 20% of the total cost of infrastructure in cash prior to the project implementation under the community infrastructure project. The NGO has used small group arrangement successfully to obtain people's contribution in cash and labor for the construction of surface drains. According to the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Public Utilities, small groups in Siddharthapura A section has collected Rs.80,000 (Rupees Eighty Thousand) in cash as community contribution for the CDC for the completion of Rs.740,746 worth of infrastructure works. This is an evidence to show that small group arrangement with the four-tier community organizational hierarchy is recognized and it works not only in solid management but also in other community development works.
Community contribution in terms of labor for solid waste collection is high in this settlement compared to the other areas in the city of Colombo. Community groups meet very often. Small groups and the core group report their problems to the CDC. The CDC takes them to the NGOs and other government organizations or use political pressure to get the government and local authority supports. Certain rules have been developed by the CDC in instances like some residents do not contribute the total amount agreed in terms of cash and kind in community solid waste management . For example: the proper sanitary behaviour is must for households to receive basic amenities, first come first serve, external agencies like NUDA, CMC and Water Board be informed about households who have negative and indifferent behaviour towards the community management plan, and CDC would not provides its service to such families.
One other activity that the NGO has encouraged is the partnership building between community and the local authority. It has been found in this project that the local authority is willing to assist community based solid waste management and even to change some municipal rules as long as communities are organized and demands its services. In Colombo, local government ordinances allow municipality to collect garbage only from secondary collection points located on public and municipal roads. Municipal vehicles go inside the Siddharthapura on private and semi-public roads to collect garbage from households. In this case, both the community and the local authority needed an intermediary organization like NGO-WSSDS for negotiation and community mobilization.
5.3 Cost recovery
Urban waste collection and disposal is still a local government function in Colombo. Municipality does not charge any fee from the citizen for solid waste management. In such circumstances the recovery of cost of waste management from low income people is not appropriate at this point of time. To recover the cost of solid waste management by the local authority or by a NGO needs macro level policy changes. But due to the community participation and management local authority's recurrent cost can be reduced to some extent by the reduction of waste coming to the main stream and improving the efficiency of waste collection in low income settlements. Still a need has not arisen for people to hire a person for waste collection within the settlement or from out side. Household members are doing it satisfactorily.