With approximately 60% - 70% of waste being bio-degradable, composting has become an important component of an integrated waste management process. Keeping this in mind, the UNDP field office in Jaffna awarded a grant to the Nallur Pradeshiya Sabha to implement a compost system due to begin in April 2010.
According to the Ministry of Environment, in 2005 approximately 95,000 kg of waste was collected every day within the Northern Province. This amount is likely to double or triple with the rapid development projects undertaken by “Uthuru Wastanthaya”: the post- conflict government initiative to fast track development. If not handled properly this sudden increase of waste may cause a multitude of environmental, social and economic issues. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Assistant Resident Representative Dr. Ananda Mallawatantri said “When we met the Pradeshiya Sabha’s in December 2009 in Jaffna, waste management and related issues were noted as the number one priority for local authorities”. Hence it becomes important to have a strategic vision to be able to handle this complex issue of managing waste systematically and well ahead of time.
Fortunately, in last 10 years, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the central government, local authorities, non government agencies and bilateral donors, a number of very successful waste management operations were conducted in the south of the country. These initiatives proved that waste can be managed effectively and that this can even be a profitable venture. Many lessons can be learnt from these projects when creating a sustainable waste management system in the north.
It is with this view that the United Nations Development Programme – Disaster Risk Management (UNDP-DRM) team partnered with the Transition Recovery Programme (TRP) to organize an exposure visit for a group of Environment officers, Public Health Officers, Pradeshiya Sabha secretaries and field engineers from the areas of Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, and Killinochchi, to the south of the country where they could observe successful projects and meet with their implementers.
The team of 20 officers visited a number of projects which included composting at local authority, community and household levels, bio gas generation and use at institutional levels and microfinance based waste recycling at a household level. It also gave the Northern visitors an insight into the established methods and technologies used in waste management, which could be replicated in projects in the North.
In addition to the field visit the team met with Mr. M. J. J. Fernando, Director of the Pilisaru Project of the Central Environmental Authority (CEA). He explained the strategies of Waste Management and talked about the assistance and support that could be provided by the CEA for the implementation of such projects. They also met Mr. Nilan Mannapperuma, Deputy Director of the Waste Management Authority (Western Province) who explained the process practiced by the western province and talked about pilot projects conducted with the cooperation of the general public in segregating the waste, with methodical collection points and collection routines for proper waste management.
“This exposure visit gave us an insight as to ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ while planning our waste management strategy” said Mr. S Karatheepan, Public Health Inspector Vali South Pradheshiyasaba, Chunnakum.
Mr. T. N Sooriyarajah, Divisional Environmental Officer – Nallur said “This visit gave the green light, or the confirmation to go ahead with our waste management plan, as supported by the UNDP.” “We were able to network with people who have the relevant technical knowledge and officers of the same field who agreed to help us in various ways while initiating our project in the North."
The UNDP and the CEA are now formulating a system to provide further support and help make the Northern Province waste free.