It starts at home

Executive officers of 25 municipalities spanning the length and breadth of the country gathered in the capital on Monday to draft plans for management of municipal waste and formulate a long-term vision on waste management. Management of solid waste has been especially problamatic in the major urban settlements of Birgunj, Biratnagar, Dharan, Pokhara, Butwal, Bharatpur, Hetauda, and of course, the Kathmandu Valley. The participants at the Monday United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) workshop too emphasised the clean up of these areas to protect public health.

Community participation approach has been successful to a degree in Hetauda and Dharan. But so much more needs to be done. While in Pokhara, home to the biggest landfill site in South Asia, “technical glitches” — which are basically bureaucratic failings renamed — continue to mar the clean up bid. Resources, manpower and technology are in short supply; and most of the populace remains ignorant about household waste management through wastewater treatment plants and eco-toilets. If the volume of household waste can be reduced, the thinking goes, the waste emanating from the municipalities will go down. But proper training of municipal staff and exploring alternative waste management methods are vital too if the 58 municipalities in Nepal are to avoid the recent fate of Naples.