Sunday, 29 July 2012

Waste Management - rural Himalayas


Morgan McIntosh, Australia

A problem evident throughout India, improper disposal of waste and a lack of required facilities is a challenge also facing the rural communities in the hills and mountains in northern India state of Himachal Pradesh. The adverse affects of waste being frequently thrown on the side of the road and piles burnt when collected is extensive and reaches to not only environmental concerns but also health. There are various organisations working on waste-management and environmental issues in the region but there is still a very long way to go. With no effort or project underway at our project site before our arrival in the village, Morgan McIntosh from Australia started her internship on the project SWASH village (Sanitation of Water, Air and Soil for Healthy village) with a 3-month implementation plan for the community focusing on both resource and facility development as well as educational activities designed to generate interest and awareness.  
“Here in this hilly village near Dharamsala my primary objective is to firstly introduce a system to collect and relocate the rubbish so that it is not burned in the vicinity of the community. With the community initially very receptive to ideas about waste-management projects I anticipate this step to be well received. I believe challenges will come from the transportation of waste from the community and possibly maintaining interest and enthusiasm in the project once the novelty has subsided. Having completed the research and planning part of my project, I hope to at least have achieved this first step before my departure.  
I hope to help the community understand the harms of the toxins produced from burning rubbish and assist in providing an initial alternative. I also hope to help the community feel a part of the extensive regional and global environment conservation movements. In the long term I visualise engagement with the community through a routine rubbish-pick up walk, placement of the waste collection bins near the shops in the village or neighbouring communities and engagement with the local school. In the future, there is also need to for work in water sanitation and management. However for now, with support of other team-members I will focus on achieving some small steps within the small part of the village community. At the end of the 3-month period we will be able to evaluate the success of the project and re-assess our strategy and activity plans as well as the community’s needs and attitudes to move forward for a community based sustainable solution and a working model. “