in Solid Waste Management


A Case Study from

Colombo,Sri Lanka.







K.A. Jayaratne


220/3, Nawala Road


Sri Lanka







Community Participation in Urban Solid Waste Management

Case Study of Siddharthapura Low Income Settlement,

Colombo, Sri Lanka.







I am grateful to following people and organizations for their support and encouragements given to me to write this case study: Ms. Maria Muller, Senior Sociologist, WASTE, the Netherlands, Office bearers of Community Development Councils of Siddharthapura Division - A, Ms. Indika Alahakoon Community Development Officer, NGO-WSSDS and Miss Dilrukshi Silva for typing of the report.






List of Abbreviations






CAB - Common Amenities Board


CBO - Community-Based Organization


CDC - Community Development Council


CMA - Colombo Metropolitan Area


CMC - Colombo Municipal Council


CUA - Colombo Urban Area


MEIP - Metropolitan Environmental Improvement Program


MHP - Million Houses Program


NBRO - National Building Research Organization


NGO - Non-Governmental Organization


NHDA - National Housing Development Authority


SWM - Solid Waste Management


UBSP - Urban Basic Service Program


UC - Urban Council


UDA - Urban Development Authority


UHSP - Urban Housing Sub-Program


ULA - Urban Local Authority


UNCRD - United Nations Centre for Regional Development


USAID - United State Agency for International Development


NGOWSSDS - Non Governmental Organizations for Water Supply and Sanitation Water Decade Service


Table of Contents



Chapter One


1.0 Introduction 1


1.1 Purpose of the study 1


1.2 Methodology: 2



Chapter Two


2.0 Urban Low Income Sector in Sri Lanka 4



Chapter Three


3.0 Solid Waste Management in Colombo City 8


3.1 Amount of solid waste generated and collected 8


3.2 Characteristics of Solid Waste 8


3.3 Solid Waste Collection 9


3.4 Solid Waste Treatment and Disposal 10


3.5 Operational and organizational aspects. 10


3.6 Recycling and Reuse 10


3.7 Current trends in Solid Waste Management 11


3.8 Non Government Organizations Involved in Urban Issues: 11



Chapter Four


4.0 Case Study

Siddharthapura Shanty Upgrading Project -Division 'A' 14


4.1 Physical Environment 14


4.2 Population 15


4.3 Housing and Land Tenure 16


4.5 Community Organization 17


4.6 Utilities and Services 18


4.7 Waste Situation in the Community 19



Chapter Five


5.0 Community Approaches to Solid Waste Management 21


5.1 Background 21


5.2 Community Management Approach to Solid Waste Problem in Siddharthapura Division - `A' 22


5.3 Implementation 30


5.3 Cost recovery 32



Conclusions 34






1 Strategies Proposed by CDC and Small Group

Leaders for Solid Wate Problem in



2 Map - Location of Case Study Area


3 Map - Siddharathapura Low Income Settlment (before upgrading in 1984)


4 Map - Siddharathapura Shanty Upgrading Project (Division `A')

Chapter One


1.0 Introduction


Community based waste management is often considered a promising strategy for improving the environmental conditions of low income settlements. One line of thought emphasizes that people should radically change their attitudes and habits, while another line emphasizes that more income opportunities in recycling should be created as only way to have a sustainable garbage collection service. Both lines of thought assume that the community through its leaders and organizations is able to initiate and enforce lasting changes of habits. And that the community is able to plan and manage waste collection / recycling enterprises. The ability of formal and informal leaders to influence and organize their community members is indeed one of the factors underlying successful projects.


Some community members have an inborn talent for leadership. Many people, however, can enhance their capacities for leadership and cooperation through learning about approaches and initiatives applied in other communities. In this case it concerns the community management approaches regarding community based waste management. The basic hypothesis is that NGOs and CBOs can improve these community based waste management approaches once they have been made explicit and a subject for discussion.


One of the major problems in Sri Lanka is the inefficiency in collection and disposal of waste in urban areas. Due to the rapid urban growth, the volume of waste added to the waste stream has been on increase. There is a scarcity of lands to be used as dumping ground or landfill sites. Waste management is still a function of the local authorities in Sri Lanka. Many local authorities have faced not only the problem of inefficient waste management but also they have been unable to deal with health and sanitation issues aggravated due to the environmental pollution from the urban waste. Formulation a sustainable waste management system has become a priority for local and central government agencies involved in urban development in Sri Lanka. Under this situation, segments of the civil society specially, community groups and Non-Governmental Organizations have gained an increased recognition as capable institutions to find sustainable solutions for the solid waste problem in urban areas. As the government is increasingly unable to provide services, housing and infrastructure to rapidly growing population, the role of the government has already been changing from being a provider to enabler. The State becomes the facilitator of the public-private partnerships, as community also takes responsibilities for providing services to the poor.

1.1 Purpose of the study


Participation for development and management has been practiced for decades. Participation has been used as an instrument for efficient execution of defined projects or delivery of services through which it expects user participation to reduce capital investments and increase local resource mobilization. On the other hand, participation has been looked as a process by which communities gain power to have access to control over economic, social and political resources. This approach emphasizes a learning process through which communities gain skills and confidence to sustain on going local initiatives necessary for their own development. Ultimately, they should become the prime managers of local development process. Many countries have been used participation in solid waste management for efficient delivery of services as well as a development approach to empower communities. The main purpose of this study is to look at how participation has been used for both - efficiency and empowerment - for poor to enhance technical and managerial skills, gain greater access to decision making processes, achieve greater social equality, and obtain services. Hence, this study has three specific objectives. They are:


1 to present the urban low income housing situation in Colombo,


2 to review the current waste management situation in Colombo metropolitan area and


3 to study in details about the community participation in solid waste management in a selected low income settlement in Colombo.


1.2 Methodology:


This study was carried out in the following manner. The initiative to carry out a study on community participation in urban solid waste management was made by the WASTE, the Netherlands under its Urban Waste Experience Program. It had been decided to carry out this study in four countries in Asia -Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Philippines. First, four researchers met with the research coordinator and discussed and agreed on: the objectives, and scope of study, case study section criteria, study definitions and outline of case study report. After this discussion local researcher, first, visited several low income settlements in Colombo and had informal discussions with residence and organizations involved in community based development and welfare works. These field visits and discussions helped the researcher to select a suitable site in accordance with the agreed criteria.

Following criteria was used for the selection of the case study area. One requirement specified at study design stage was to select a site which demonstrates some aspects that can be communicated to others for the purpose of learning.


- It should be an urban low income community, but

- It should have achieved a certain degree of "success".

- It should have a large extent of community participation, including:

* following trend new rules introduced by the leaders

* attending meetings

* taking part in decision making

* institution building (forming a Community Based Organizations (CBO); establishing linkages between CBOs, NGOs and Local Government; reviving old CBOs and people's Organizations)

* changing their habits ("clean not only one's own yard, but also keep the street clean")

* cooperative management of a junk shop

* deals with a particular project phase or activity that is very effective; even if the other activities of that project are not successful or effective.

* deals first of all with solid waste management; management of human waste may be added as a secondary issue.

* several "Community management approaches" are in operation, formal or informal.

- Information should be obtainable within two months.


First part of the study, urban low income sector in Sri Lanka and the solid waste management in Colombo city, has been carried out by using secondary data. Major sources for the analysis of the existing solid waste management approaches in Colombo were the studies done by the Urban Development Authority, CMC, MEIP, NGO-WSSSDS and the National Building Research Organization.


Socio-economic data of the community in the case study area was available with NGO-WSSDS from the enumeration survey carried in 1994 for the community infrastructure project of Ministry of Housing, Construction and Public Utilities. Community infrastructure Project of Housing Ministry is known as Clean Settlement Project which is partly funded by the World Bank under the Colombo Environmental Improvement Program. Community Development Officer attached to the NGO-WSSDS who has been involved in the carrying out several community action planning workshops and in introducing community management approach in case study area was a very useful resource for the study. Information regarding the community management process was gathered by interviewing Community Development Officer, CDC leaders, small and core group members and officers attached to the district office of CMC.

Chapter Two