Colon, Marine and Fawcett, Ben
Community-based household waste management: lessons learnt from EXNORA's 'zero waste management' scheme in two South Indian cities
Habitat International, 30, (4), . (doi:10.1016/j.habitatint.2005.04.006).
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This paper presents two case studies on the efforts by a community-based organisation to promote a sustainable integrated waste management system in Indian mega cities. This effort was initiated in 1989 by a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) called EXNORA and is based on a ‘zero waste management scheme’ set up, run and financed by the residents themselves. As this model has been widely quoted as successful, the study aims at learning from two communities implementing this model.
Results are reported from a survey of the two schemes that used various tools to assess both their performance and sustainability in selected residential areas of two Indian cities, Chennai and Hyderabad. The results indicate limited success of the schemes both in saving a significant fraction of the generated waste from dumping, and in rehabilitating the local poor. However, they show that motivated individuals can successfully set up and manage waste collection systems that lead to overall environmental improvements. The differences in the two schemes reflect how the local assets and contexts impact on the success of the scheme. The scheme in a rich neighbourhood of Hyderabad was less ambitious in its overall objectives and focussed on the provision of a waste management service, using the opportunity to provide local employment to a socially deprived fraction of the population. The scheme in a middle-class area of Chennai, although pioneering in its approach, suffered from diseconomies of scale and lack of social integration, making it less viable in the medium to long term. Both schemes suffered from a lack of community involvement, motivation and political support, which threatens the long-term sustainability of the enterprise. The research concludes that the role that communities can realistically play in management of their own waste depends on the local context. The system advocated by EXNORA seems to require significant local resources, and political and technical support which are hard to find and sustain without strong local leaders. Another model set up in the city of Visakhapatnam is finally introduced as an alternative. This is based on triangular contracts between the municipality, the residents and micro-enterprises and may provide a good solution in dealing with the technical and commercial aspects which communities find difficult.
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