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Communities make effort to set-up a sustainable waste management system in villages

Story

By Chandrika Patnaik

25 January 2023

Rural communities strive to keep their villages clean and safe through an efficient solid waste management system.

A common dustbin in Samogaita village in Tarava Gram Panchayat of Gajapati district.

Photograph by Banabasi Patnaik

According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,, single-use plastics such as cutlery, straws, and carry bags have been banned from 1 July 2022 onwards. The ban will target single-use plastic items that it considers low utility and has high littering potential in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Consequently, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM-Gramin) allocates funds to help rural households dispose garbage in an environmentally friendly manner by establishing a functional waste management system. In Gram Panchayats, PRI and ward members are more inclined to establish a waste disposal system because household waste has created unsightly streets and unhealthy rural environments. Community-level Solid Waste Management (SWM) would include garbage from households and shops in the village. The solid waste from the designated area is transported to a Gram Panchayat waste sorting center in areas where road transport and an SWM mechanism are available and accessible. Chamakhandi Gram Panchayat in the Chhatrapur block of Ganjam district, has eight villages under it. In March 2022, the Panchayat devised a waste disposal plan for all eight villages. It distributed two dustbins per household in the villages. Every morning, autorickshaws collect household waste from individual homes. Take for instance the residents from Jagyashala village under the Panchayat having 128 families: When the vehicle approaches their homes, they come out with their daily waste and hand it over to the personnel in the vehicle.

Naib Sarpanch and Ward Member R. Nirupama Reddy, a resident of Jagyashala village, says since the Panchayat started deploying the autorickshaw for garbage collection in April this year, the eight villages under it are reaping the gains of a clean environment. Infact, residents from neighbouring Sriramchandrapur Panchayat have praised the initiative of Chamakhandi Panchayat. Micro Compost Center, a waste sorting centre established in May 2022 near the Jagyashala hills, sorts waste from the eight villages coming under the Panchayat. The sorting center segregates waste from Banabulapalli, B.Totapalli, Chamakhandi Chhaka, Sitanagar, Sitarampur, Chamakhandi, Jagyashala and Sindurapalli. An autorickshaw is deployed for the eight villages to collect household garbage every morning. Each household pays a monthly sum of ₹10 for the services. The Panchayat has entrusted an SHG belonging to one of the villages to collect monthly contributions from all households in the eight villages. The contributions are made towards fuel costs and the monthly wage for the autorickshaw driver. The center has generated livelihood opportunities for three SHG members—Sushama Naik, B.Apallama Patra and Sabita Das from Jangyashala, working on daily wages at the sorting center to segregate waste. The Swachhata Sahayaka from the block office inspects the center regularly. The Panchayat hopes to earn an income from the waste collected.

“To achieve a clean Panchayat, all the villages under our Panchayat should implement solid waste disposal systems. Let us start with village-level waste disposal through awareness meetings educating the community on what are biodegradable wastes, non-biodegradable wastes and what are hazardous wastes with different segments of people/groups in the village like households, SHGs, tea stalls, shopkeepers and school children. The next step would be to make them understand how to do segregation from the household level,” says Joseph Gamango, Panchayat Executive Officer (PEO) of Tarava Gram Panchayat in Gajapati district. He spoke during a felicitation ceremony of the newly-elected PRI members in the Tarava community hall.

Samagaitha village in Tarava Panchayat has a newly-formed village committee. Gram Vikas introduced its plans to engage the local community in water resource management and to build sustainable and gender-equitable institutions contributing to a better health and economic future in April 2022.

The village committee and SHG members of Samaghaita village, met to discuss waste piling on their streets and scaling up waste management in their village following the Panchayat meeting in Tarava. The focus was on first bringing about behavioural change to eliminate the littering of waste in open areas and scaling it up through a participatory approach for implementing a community waste management program in the village. They decided to mobilise the residents through SHG meetings and village meetings.

In the following days, the village witnessed awareness sessions with SHG members on waste disposal and the benefits of living in a clean environment. The SHG members made placards and carried them around in the village to spread awareness. The SHG and village committee members discussed the health benefits of safely disposing waste that would otherwise contaminate the environment. They discussed the economic benefits of recycling waste products. Dumping waste in the open can contaminate the soil and groundwater, and become a breeding ground for flies, rats, and other insects.

These awareness sessions helped residents understand the difference in solid and liquid waste based on usage. Waste is classified into household, commercial, hazardous, or biomedical. Solid waste is categorised as biodegradable and this includes vegetable peel, food, farm waste, etc. Organic waste is biodegradable and can be recycled. Non-biodegradable waste cannot be broken down by biological processes such as paper, glass, metal, plastic cups, and bottles.

Rispa Gamanga, 25, of Janani SHG, says: “When dustbins at homes get filled up, they  get thrown out on the sides of streets and open ground. But having a place exclusively to dump waste will ensure cleanliness in the environment.” After a village meeting, forty-five households from the village agreed to set up a waste management system. The village approached the Naib Sarpanch with a request for funds to build a waste disposal center. The Naib Sarpanch released the funds for the construction of the center the following week.

The residents of Samaghaita feel a sense of pride in having a community waste disposal center. This is quite evident when residents from other villages, such as from neighbouring Ukhura Panchayat, notice the disposal center on the side of the main road while passing by and enquire about it. Tibati Gamanga, 32, of Janani SHG, says: “The residents from Maliar and Minjri, villages in the Ukhura Gram Panchayat, visited the disposal center in Samagaitha. We explained to them the benefits of having a waste management system and how to approach the Panchayat for funds to build a community bin in their village. After talking to us, both villages approached their Sarpanch and have received funds to build a community bin in their village.”.

Sixty-two Adivasi families live in Angada village. The village falls under Bhubani Gram Panchayat of Gumma block in Gajapati district. Most residents are into farming and daily wage labour. Garbage and waste is dumped on the main road and into the drain. This leads to the drain being clogged with plastic carry bags, bottles, cups, and vegetable waste due to a lack of proper garbage disposal. The clogged drain results in frequent overflowing of dirty water onto the roads. The problem gets aggravated during the rainy season. Residents of villages like Abasing, Arubun, and Gudabgarayanga, use this main road to enter the picturesque town of Serango. The town is home to a bustling market. Pradip Mandal, a farmer and resident of Abasing village, visits the market in Serango to sell the vegetables he cultivates in his field and has to cross Angada every day. He says: “As one approaches Angada, one gets the foul smell and can see garbage littered around. Residents don’t clean their village. During the rainy season, the water from the drain alongside the main road overflows into the road.”

Soon after the felicitation ceremony of the newly elected Panchayat in Bhubani, the residents of Angada approached the Sarpanch for funds to have a community center for waste disposal in the village. This shows that all the eight villages have realised that Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) is one of the key components to improve cleanliness, hygiene, and the general quality of life in rural areas. The SWM program will cover the disposal of waste at the household, institution, and community levels in 162 Gram Panchayats, in 1124 habitations across 12 districts in Odisha.

A waste sorting centre in Chamakhandi Gram Panchayat of Ganjam district.

Photograph by Manikamala Swain

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Manikamala Swain, Thematic Coordinator, Planning Monitoring Documentation and Communication; Banabasi Patnaik, Thematic Coordinator, Village Institutions and Convergence; and Ranjit Kumar Dutta, Thematic Coordinator, Sanitation and Health, helped with data collection for the story. Mark Lancy Sebastian edited the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas.

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