Iftekhar Enayetullah & A .H. Md. Maqsood Sinha

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Waste Concern

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Regional Consensus on Community Based Waste Management

Welcome to first issue of Aborjona O Paribesh of the new century. This newsletter presents an overview of recent developments in the field of solid waste management in the country and also brings out features on good practices in the sector from other Asian countries.

Since our last issue in October 1999, a milestone in the field of community based solid waste management has taken place in the region. A regional seminar on community based solid waste management was held in Dhaka, from 19 to 20 February 2000. The seminar was sponsored by Regional Urban Development Office (RUDO), South Asia, USAID; Urban Management Program, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Water and Sanitation Program-South Asia aimed at sharing valuable lessons learned so far from community based solid waste management in the Asian region with stakeholders. More than 100 participants from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Thailand, Switzerland, USA and Bangladesh took part in the seminar.

The objective of the regional seminar on Community Based Solid Waste Management was to share various experiences of community based solid waste management in the Asian region Its real intention was to compare and exchange the innovative approaches being followed in the region and also to discuss present challenges, deficiencies and impacts of community based solid waste management schemes as well as to reach a consensus as to how it can be scaled-up.

The seminar also focused on integration of community based solid waste management schemes with formal municipal solid waste management system for tangible environmental improvement of the regional cities and suggested measures for its scale-up and integration with municipal solid waste management system.

The recommended measures/strategies for scaling-up emerged from a large number of papers presented on Day-1 and group discussions and specific recommendations to certain sub-themes on Day-2.

The seminar recognized that a regional exchange on the present experiences and practices on community based solid waste management has started, and this itself is a very positive development in the region. It was encouraging to note that various experiences of different countries are viewed as mutually reinforcing, as all the regional countries are following the same concept of management of solid waste i.e. promoting door-to-door collection, source separation, neighborhood composting and advocacy for awareness building.

It is hoped that in more and more cities and towns, the concerned institutions/ organizations would be inclined to promote community based solid waste management approach and integrate with main stream solid waste management system for eventual improvement and benefit of the environment.

It is expected that in the near future city governments in the region would facilitate institutionalizing innovative community based solid waste management programs into routine operations of the local governments by framing suitable strategies and modifying necessary by-laws in this regard.


Mr. H.N. Ashequr Rahman, Honorable State Minister for Environment and Forest, Government of Bangladesh Addressing the Inaugural Session of the Regional Seminar 

Urban solid waste management is considered as one of the most immediate and serious environmental problems confronting municipal authorities in developing Asian countries. Although municipal authorities acknowledge the importance of adequate solid waste collection and disposal as well as resource recovery and recycling, it is mostly beyond their resources to deal effectively with the growing amount of solid waste generated by the expanding cities. Consequently, solid waste is indiscriminately dumped on roads and into open drains, thus leading to serious health risks and degradation of living environment for millions of urban people. In the last decade, however, importance of community involvement in solid waste management and use of adapted technologies were duly recognized for improving the solid waste management system.

In this backdrop, several community based initiatives have taken place in different Asian cities by the stakeholders, i.e. private sector, residential community groups, CBOs, NGOs and most vulnerable informal sector group such as waste pickers working in this area Such type of community based initiatives have been piloted over the past years by different organizations in different Asian cities. These initiatives demonstrate that community based solid waste management is a realistic approach to improve the solid waste disposal situation at local level. Moreover, municipal authorities in some Asian cities are showing interest in these initiatives by supporting communities or private sector to manage part of solid waste management services at local level. 

A two-day regional seminar from 19 to 20 February was organized by Waste Concern and sponsored jointly by Regional Urban Development Office (RUDO), South Asia, USAID; Urban Management Program, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Water and Sanitation Program-South Asia aimed at sharing valuable lessons learned so far from community based solid waste management in the Asian region with stakeholders. initiatives. 


Inaugural Session

Before presentation of the keynote paper on regional experience on community based solid waste management by Prof. A.T.M. Nurul Amin of Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, Thailand the inaugural session was addressed by Mr.A.H.Md. Maqsood Sinha, General Secretary, Waste Concern, Mr. Syed Marghub Murshed, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of Bangladesh, Mr. H.N. Ashequr Rahman, Honorable State Minister for Environment and Forest, Government of Bangladesh and Mr. James I. Stein, Director, RUDO, South Asia, USAID.

Technical Sessions

Highlights of the first day of the seminar were 13 papers /case studies from countries as varied as Indonesia and Pakistan, and cities as far apart as Metro Manila and Dhaka. The key issues identified in the papers are summarized below:

Key Issues Raised in the Papers Presented on Day - 1

1. Phenomenal Growth in Urban Population is Creating Solid Waste Disposal Problem

A major change is happening in the world before our eyes. For the first time in history more people would be living in cities than in idyllic villages. Many cities in the South are already bursting at the rim, yet they keep on growing as more people gravitate towards urban centers in search of opportunities.
One of the first visible victims of this massive upsurge in urban population is mounting garbage generation that remains uncollected.
Solid waste management traditionally belonged to the realm of the public sector, but it can now hardly cope with collecting and disposing ever-increasing amount of garbage.

2. Alternative Service Delivery is Required

The presenters provided two rays of light in dispelling the dismal darkness surrounding the solid waste management scene. These are:

Mr. Anselem Rosario, Executive Director, WASTE WISE, Bangalore, India, in his paper described the need for multi-stakeholder participation. Community based initiatives work because they offer local solutions in addressing local problems. They are adaptive and flexible to suit local conditions. The public sector, on the other hand, works on a őwholesale‚ basis. They traditionally view SWM as a „technicalš problem, whereas management and social issues are equally important. Here CBOs have a comparative advantage over the public sector. This has been echoed by many authors.

It was encouraging to know from Mr. Chris Zurburgg of SANDEC, Switzerland presentation on Indonesia where it was the public sector that sowed the seed of community based initiatives. It shows that the public sector may also be eager to embrace alternative options in solving SWM problems.

3. Community Based Initiatives Do Work 

Mr. Maqsood Sinha and Mr. Iftekhar Enayetullah‚s joint paper on Dhaka, Mr. Chularatna and Mr. Ratnayak‚s joint paper on Colombo and Dr. Tanveer Ahsan and Shafiul Azam Ahmed's joint paper on Khulna, and indeed other papers also established the fact that community based solid waste management does work. But the authors expressed some caveats:

4. What is Needed to Nurture Community Based Initiatives?

Financial assistance may be needed for nascent community based or micro-enterprise initiatives before they mature into self-sustaining institutions. This view was expressed by Ms.Samia Shinwari of HRMDC, Pakistan and Dr.Tanveer Ahsan. Messrs. Maqsood Sinha' & Iftekhar Enayetullah‚s experience showed that the NGO based initiative introduced a few years back had already reached financial independence.

Mr. Tariq Bin Yousuf of Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) mentioned that upgrading municipal ordinances are needed to accommodate inclusion of NGOs,CBOs and Micro enterprises into the mainstream of solid waste management.

The issue of double taxation came up in Ms. Samia Shinwari‚s and other papers. In most cities the citizen pay a conservancy tax for solid waste management services. CBOs charge an additional fee on top of that. Understandably, people are reluctant to pay twice for the same service. It requires communications and motivational skill to convince people that their tax to municipal authorities usually cover secondary collection only. For extra service of door-to-door primary collection, an additional nominal fee has to be borne, if not included in the conservancy tax.

Mr. R.P. Sisodia Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, India cited example of community supervision to ensure effective service delivery. This is an exciting idea to build partnership between service providers and service receivers. It should increase both accountability of service providers and ownership of the community members.

5. The Need for Research

Dr. Abdur Rahman and Mr. Golam Murtaza of Khulna University mentioned that good, reliable data on solid waste management in our cities are scarce. It is very important that we understand what components exist in our waste stream and how much waste is generated before we can devise appropriate intervention method to tackle the problem.

6. Is Service Delivery by CBOs/NGOs All Good?

Mr. Golam Mortaza raised some important issues regarding service delivery by CBOs and NGOs. As we extol the virtues of these organizations, we tend to overlook they their own limitations as well. Mr. Murtaza pointed out that many CBOs/NGOs employ children as waste collector. It is true that in most cases these children are given a chance to attend school and they receive other benefits that greatly improve their standard of living. Nevertheless, the issue of child labor has to be taken seriously by all concerned.

Sometimes the alternative service delivery is not as effective and efficient as it is supposed to be. It has to borne in mind that people pay extra charge to receive quality service that is not conventionally available. There is no point in introducing alternative service providers if they fail to provide quality service.
It has been observed in many places that community based initiatives which sprout spontaneously do not feel the necessity to maintain close linkage with the formal sector. Not having much interaction, the private and the public sector operators work in mutual isolation. Some element of mistrust is also present between both parties. This gap between the CBOs/NGOs and local authorities works against the principle of partnership, and the entire operation is deprived of synergistic benefit.

7. The Need for Networking

Necessity for networking was mentioned by Mr. Murtaza and many others. A lot of experience and research are available that can benefit all actors in the sector. Exchange of information is presently trickling through events such as this workshop. Mr. Iftekhar Enayetullah mentioned that their community based composting venture was modeled after an Indonesian experience and the barrel type composting initiative for slums was adapted from Sri Lanka.

A networking platform would expedite such process of learning and contribute much to our knowledge base. As the network members become better informed, they can even conduct policy advocacy to bring about necessary changes in the policy frameworks.

8. Innovations

There were several fascinating presentations on innovative initiatives. Mr. Anjum Parvez Qureshi Waste Busters, Karachi Pakistan in his paper described his effort in containing garbage in bags to limit spillage and scattering in Karachi, Pakistan. 

Mr. Mewa Lal from Lucknow, India presented impressive figures on his operations. His organization Muskan Jyoti Samiti has now over 30,000 subscribers. He is already expanding his services to drain cleaning and street sweeping in addition to door-to-door garbage collection. Dr. Tanveer Ahsan pointed out, successful primary collection of waste by CBOs/NGOs may open up other services to them also.

Mr. Mewa Lal and others also have gained good experience in vermiculture and dealing with liquid waste. It appears that with these innovative approaches towards waste may truly become a resource.

Messrs. Iftekhar Enayetullah and Maqsood Sinha‚s joint paper revealed that the project of Waste Concern in Dhaka is self-sustainable and this type of project can be easily located within the community.

SUMMARY OF DAY Ų 2 (February 20, 2000)

Two papers were presented in first session of the day. In the second session group discussions were held.

Mr. P.U. Asnani of USAEP/USAID, in his paper entitled Modernization of Solid Waste Management Practices in India with NGO, Public and Private Sector Participation informed the seminar about the recommendations made by the Indian Supreme Court Committee on Solid Waste Management for improvement of the situation in India. He suggested for adoption of the recommendations in other regional countries. He further informed that the aforesaid Committee has recommended that:

Mrs. Almitra Patel Convener, INTACH Waste Network,Bangalore, India in her presentation discussed the recent Draft Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1999 issued by Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India.

Key Issues and Strategies Identified for Scaling-up of Community Based Solid Waste Management by the Participants During the Group Discussion Session




Inadequate Solid Waste Management Policy/Municipal Act/Ordinance

  • Enabling policy framework for encouraging and facilitating CBOs/ NGOs Private Sector to gradually take over solid waste management services
  • Framing such policies that allow local bodies to entrust solid waste management services to NGOs/CBOs/ Private Sectors
  • Institutionalization of co-ordination mechanism between local bodies and NGOs/CBOs
  • National Government and Local Government Bodies
  • National Government and Local Government Bodies
  • National Government, Local Government Bodies and NGOs

Lack of Adequate Fund/ Resources for Entrepreneurs/ CBOs/NGOs

  • National, State and Local Level Bodies should provide administrative, financial and logistical support e.g. lands equipment, mobilization fund to the CB0s/ NGOs/ Private Sector
  • Corporate Sponsorship
  • Bank Loan on easy terms
  • Government incentives on recyclable materials and compost
  • Support in kind by Local Government Bodies
  • Seed Money from donors
  • National Government and Local Government Bodies
  • Private Sector
  • National Banks
  • National Government and Local Government Bodies
  • Local Government Bodies
  • Donors

Lack of Community Awareness and Willingness to Pay

  • Creating awareness through proper communication strategy
  • Involving local schools and inclusion in education curriculum with respect to solid waste management
  • Organizing workshop with stakeholders about solid waste management issues
  • Raising the Problem: why the issue needs to be discussed through mass Media
  • Making user charge mandatory for house to house solid waste collection, but allowing community to choose service provider.
  • Determining variable rates of user charges depending on-income levels of the beneficiaries
  • National Government, Local Government Bodies, NGOs
  • National Government, Local Government Bodies, NGOs,
  • Schools
  • Local Government Bodies, NGOs and Donors
  • National Government, Local Government Bodies, NGOs
  • National Government, Local Govemment Bodies, -Community Groups
  • National Government, Local Government Bodies, NGOs

Lack of Operational Capacity of Local Government Bodies, NGOs/CBOs

  • Preparing an easy to understand user friendly manual on solid waste management, recycling and resource recovery.
  • Preparing guidelines on solid waste management
  • Imparting proper training for improvement of management skill of local government bodies, NGOs/ CBOs/ Private Sectors
  • NGOs and Local Government Bodies
  • National Government and Local Government Bodies
  • Local Government Bodies, NGOs, International Agencies and Donors

Need for Networking and Compiling Adequate Database on Solid Waste Management

  • Facilitating exchange of information through events like seminar/workshop/internet conference
  • Establishment of network platform on solid waste management can expedite the process of learning and contribute to knowledge base and help in policy advocacy to bring necessary change in municipal laws.
  • Scarcity of adequate and reliable data on solid waste management. can be tackled by action research to collect necessary data for cities.
  • NGOs /international Agencies/ Donors
  • NGOs /international Agencies/ Donors
  • Local Government Bodies, NGOs, Research Institutes

Technical Session of the Regional Seminar Valedictory Session of Regional Seminar

Valedictory Session

Apart from presentation of aforementioned strategies by three groups on scaling-up of community based solid waste management the valedictory session was addressed by Mr. James I. Stein, Director, RUDO South Asia, USAID, Mr. Habibullah, Secretary, Dhaka City Corporation and Mr. Iftekhar Enayetullah, Asst. General Secretary of Waste Concern. The closing remarks were made by Prof. Nazrul Islam, Chairman Dhaka Water & Sewerage Authority (DWASA) Board and Professor of Department of Geography and Environment of University of Dhaka, who presided over the concluding session of the two-day regional seminar.

Group Photograph of Some of the Participants




Cash in Trash -- NGO Led Initiative for Solid Waste Management in Lucknow, India

Profile of Muskan Jyoti Samiti (MJS)

The MUSKN JYOTI (MJS) was established as an NGO in the year 1994 in Lucknow, India to provide service on a participatory basis to collect and dispose Solid Waste from the doorstep of the people. It also aims at converting the organic waste thus collected into compost manure known as Vermi-composting. Since inception Muskan Jyoti Samiti has undertaken several initiatives in the field of Solid Waste Management and also proposes to undertake similar other activities in many areas. 

Lucknow at a Glance

Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh State of North India with a population of about 2.5 million (1991). Like most other cities in India, it is struggling with the problem of solid waste management. MJS has been successfully providing service delivery of solid waste collection and disposal in Trans-Gomti area covering about 20,000 households of Lucknow supported by SUDA (State Urban Development Authority), service delivery to 5,000 households of Allahabad City with support of DUDA (District Urban Development Authority) since 1994. The number of households of Lucknow is 280,000 (1991). 

Project Concept

Traditionally, Indian culture has valued and given importance to a clean and healthy mind, clean and healthy act, clean and healthy living style, and a clean and healthy environment. Such precepts are based on the belief that the clean and healthy mind, acts, life and environment, do good to not only an individual but are also means of welfare for all. Literally őSWASTI‚, a Sanskrit word, implies welfare. Incidentally, written in English in the Arabic script spell SWASTI which represents an acronym for Solid Waste Initiatives. Hence, it was found appropriate to title the project as the SWASTI Project.

The SWASTI Project

Keeping in mind the limitation of the governmental machinery particularly in service delivery for solid waste collection and disposal, this project has been designed as a complementary effort to the municipal service delivery system. The project is proposed to be implemented on the basis of Community Participation and initial establishment support from the Support Agencies (SUDA, DUDA and UNICEF).

The SWASTI Project is to provide the following services -

Waste Collection

Workers employed by MJS go from house to house in the morning 6 days a week to collect unsorted waste. The waste is then transported by a handcart to a cycle trolley where the primary sorting of organic and inorganic waste is carried out. The two large bags of sorted waste are then removed by the cycle trolley operator. By about 11.00 a.m., the cycle trolley operators take the waste to a central point where MJS rag-pickers sift saleable material from the collected waste. The remaining waste is picked up from these central points by tractor trolleys and taken either to the landfill, or to the composting site in Rasoolpur Kayasth outside Lucknow city. The last tractor trolley comes into the composting site at about 4.00 p.m. Once regular operations start, MJS supervisors are appointed to cover specific areas to ensure that daily collection is done properly. They keep a record of payments made by the households. They also attend to the residents‚ complaints about irregular collection or accumulated waste in the nearby parks and streets.

House to House Waste Collection by MJS 
(Photo WSP-South Asia)

Waste Disposal

On an average 10 tons of garbage is collected every day from the residential areas and from wholesale vegetable and fruit market. Approximately 40 per cent of the waste is inorganic half of which is recovered by the rag-pickers for resale by MJS while remaining waste is sent to the landfill site. 

The remaining 60 percent of the collected waste is organic consisting of plants, fruits, vegetables, hay and cow dung. This waste is used to make compost and liquid fertilizer in the MJS‚s vermi-composting unit.

In addition to waste collection and disposal, MJS also takes up the job of street cleaning of the locality once a week or as required and tree plantation in subscribing localities through community participation and government support.

Vermi Composting Site of MJS
(Photo: WSP-South Asia)

Community Mobilization

Getting the community‚s agreement to participate is a crucial part to the MJS‚s waste collection and disposal program. When a residential locality is approached for the first time, MJS community mobilizers go from door to door, informing the residents about MJS, creating awareness about SWM, and requesting them to pay for garbage collection. 

After the awareness building exercise, the residents who are willing to participate in the program sign an MJS form. When a minimum of 150 forms have been signed in a particular locality, MJS begins its operation. During the initial two-month period, the community mobilizers also advise residents to store garbage at their homes in plastic bins or bags, which can be emptied directly into the MJS handcarts.

Solid waste collection is free for the first two months. Monthly charges are levied only in the third month, after residents have benefited from the door to door collection of garbage, as well as improvement in the cleanliness to their surroundings. According to the MJS, founder Mewalal, about 80% of the residents pay the monthly collection charge after the first month of free service. Community mobilizers go around to the remaining households to inquire why they have not paid and try to persuade them to contribute and participate in the program. 

In order to ensure sustainability of the continuance of service delivery the subscribing households shall be asked to contribute at the following rates:

Table 1 : Monthly Garbage Collection Charge

Rates of the MJS (per household)  
Slum dwellers Rs. 15
Economically weaker households Rs. 20
Middle income households Rs. 25
Higher income households Rs. 30

What is Vermi-Culture and Vermi Composting 

Vermi-compost is an eco-friendly fertilizer prepared by farm and organic residue with the help of earthworm. This is helpful for soil to retain its original value and texture without harming the production level. őMuskan Jyoti‚, the pilot manufacturer of vermi compost manure is also interested in imparting trainee to farmer to make them self-reliant in the field of vermicompost fertilizer.

Nature generates organic waste which is utilized to produce a living soil. Earthworms play a key role in the management of organic waste and bio-processing of soil. They regulate the soil pH, temperature, moisture, oxygen and other nutrients that are ideal for beneficial soil bacteria and plants.

Use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has caused severe disturbances by reducing the soil bio diversity. Its application has resulted in increased pest attack and affected the nutritional composition of crops/plants.

Efforts are required to produce living soil by using vermi-compost to increase bacterial/microbial population and other matter in soils. These living soils can, in turn, provide healthy and balanced nutrition to the plants which result in healthy plant growth without insects and diseases. Pollution due to agro-chemicals is also avoided.

Earth Worm Used by MJS for Composting
(Photo: MJS)

Economics of the Project

The MJS would not be able to make such a huge success without the land, capital and equipment by the State Government. The Uttar Pradesh State Development Corporation allocated 65 acres of land free of cost. SUDA provided a grant of Rs.124, 000 for preparation of the vermin-composting beds and its, plus 100 trolleys worth Rs.300, 000. The Lucknow DUDA gave 4 tractor trolleys with a price tag of Rs.236, 000 each, 200 handcarts priced at Rs.1, 000 each. The annual collection has risen 24-fold since MJS started operation, from Rs.180, 000 in 1994-95 to Rs. 4,320,000 in 1998-99. Income from the scale of inorganic materials recovered from the collected waste has also been rising rapidly, from Rs.45, 000 in 1995-96 to Rs.660, 000 in 1998-99. 

(This article is based on the publication of Water and Sanitation Program-South Asia and paper presented by Mr. Mewa Lal of MJS at Regional Seminar on Community Based Solid Waste Management, held in Dhaka from 19-20, February, 2000)




The South Asia Meeting on őCommunity Action for Environmental Management (CAEM‚99)‚ which specially focused on Urban Solid Waste Management in Delhi was held on December 3-4, 1999 at the Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi. It was organized by Delhi Action Group (DAG) and jointly sponsored by Ministry of Health, NCT of India and USAID New Delhi. More than 100 wide ranging participants from municipal bodies, government organizations, NGOs, Development Agencies, Donor Agencies, private sectors and universities attended and contributed to the issue of waste management. Mr. A.H.Md. Maqsood Sinha, General Secretary, Waste Concern, participated in the seminar from Bangladesh. The themes presented and discussed under CAEM‚99 mainly aim to focus on intervention areas by city and communities. These could broadly be viewed as:

Policy Level:

Strategy Level :

Specific areas of attention at this level identified are:

Action Level: 

Action planning needs to be carried out at two scales:


A group of fifteen undergraduate students of department of sociology of Hosei University, Japan led by Prof. Tadashi Okanouchi, visited Waste Concern‚s on going Community Based Urban Solid Waste Management Project, one of the components of SEMP on March 15th, 2000. The students also visited Waste Concern‚s on going projects supported by RUDO,USAID and LIFE,UNDP.

Japanese Students at Waste Concern‚s Community Based Composting Site. 

Organic Waste Recycling: Technology and Management

This book is a guide to principles and practice of organic waste recycling, it addresses low cost waste recycling technologies utilizing microbial and natural process. The central core of the book presents a broad range of technologies used in the recycling of organic waste materials to produce valuable products such as: fertiliser, biogas, algae, fish and irrigated crops. Each recycling technology is described with respect to: objectives, benefits and limitations, environmental requirements, design criteria of the process, use of recycled products and public health aspects. Case studies of successful waste recycling programs are included in this book.

This book is very useful for students majoring in environmental engineering in their graduate studies. In addition, this book may serve as very useful reference material for policy makers, planners and professionals working in the waste and environmentally related fields in the developing countries.

Author : Chongrak Polprasert
Publisher : John Wiley & Sons
Date of Publication : 1996 ( Second Edition)

Newsletter Produced By : With support from :
Waste Concern 
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Regional Urban Development Office (RUDO), 
South Asia, USAID, New Delhi, India
Aborjona O Paribesh
Aborjona means waste and Paribesh, environment. This newsletter aims at building awareness among the stakeholders on relationship between proper waste management and environment, focusing community participation as the key to local level environmental improvement.