MUNICIPAL WASTE MANAGEMENT, PROBLEM AND MITIGATION STRATEGIES IN NEPAL
1.1 CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES THAT MADE ME INTERESTED IN ENVIRONMENTAL SECTOR
The memory of my previous student life is the best catalyst for involving in environmental protection and sanitation activities. When I was studying at Dhikpur Lower Secondary School Dang, the subject pure science was the field of my interest but as a behavioral science I used to like health and environmental science a lot. While I was the student at the school, most of my spare time was spent in school activities to make the environment clean and make people aware about sanitation and quality life through health and hygiene. The teachers and the students were very helpful and cooperative to each other which helped me a lot to perform community based voluntary works like “Sabun Pani le Hat Dhune Bani” means hand washing habit with soap, Yak Ghar Yak Charphi (One house one latrine). The goal of the program was to create open deification free zones (Khulla Disha Mukta Chhetra Ghoshana). All the programs were assisted by UNICEF Nepal and its objective was to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target in sanitation.
Later on I got the chance to take part in world water forum program held in Mexico, America. I was so excited to work on the field of environment. That was the remarkable event in my life which set a kind of attachment with environmental sector. At that time I got the chance to travel different countries like Canada, America, Thailand and Japan. In a short period of time I got the chance to see and experience many amazing activities about sanitation and municipal garbage waste management system. The Japanese style of municipal waste management impressed me a lot where they segregate all the waste material according to their nature. They separate all the degradable and non-degradable waste materials and burnable and non burnable. Similarly they separate the metal and non metal objects according to their feature. The environment is very clean, dust bins are kept at every public places like train and bus stations, college, schools and public parks. These kinds of garbage disposal system have made those countries neat and clean. People never through waste products except the place fixed for it.
In my opinion nothing is impossible if we have conviction to accomplish anything in our life therefore Nepal is also able to perform these tasks with her own effort. My wish is to make all the urban and rural municipalities neat and clean and this will increase the quality life of people in Nepal.
1.2 GENERAL BACKGROUND
Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Mount Everest, Lord Buddha and the Natural Beauties are the distinguished features of Nepal. The total area of Nepal is 147,181 square kilometer and according to the national census of 2011, the total population of Nepal is nearly 27 million. Although the country is small in size however the diverse geography and social structure has made the country unique in the map of the world.
Rapid growth of population, unbelievable development of science and unconscious utilization of technology has direct effect on the environment therefore for sustainable development and quality life of people we must take care about the environment. The climate change, shortage of clean drinking water, biochemical side effects are some of the problems that we are facing in our daily life. Now the government has brought the vision of smart city but different data and my own personal experience in Kathmandu valley has no any shine of clean environment and quality life of people. In Kathmandu each and every day people are facing problems related to garbage waste and clean drinking water.
Me as an environmental science student is obvious to worry about the municipal waste materials in Nepal. Now we can easily feel that Nepal is heading towards rapid urbanization. After the federal democratic republic country, there have been 6 metropolitan cities, 11 sub-metropolitan cities, 276 municipalities and 460 rural municipalities in Nepal (Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development-Nepal). If we don’t take care of the environmental aspects of these increasing number of municipalities then there may arise chronic problems related to waste management and clean drinking water which will directly effect on our daily life. Therefore I have been interested to raise the out coming problems and their proper management in municipal areas in Nepal. Today’s villages are the tomorrow’s municipalities and tomorrow’s municipalities are the smart cities in the future.
Different types of Recycling Bins in Japan (Pictures by Kanailal Chaudhary)
2. WASTE AND THEIR CATEGORIES
Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use and it is worthless and defective materials. For example municipal solid waste/ house hold trash, hazardous waste (solid, liquid, gas) , radioactive waste. Garbage, plastic, and other rapper boards are the solid waste which is emitted from different sources. Sewage water and mixture of chemicals, urine etc are the liquid waste. Similarly, different types of volatile gases which are dangerous to human health and environment are the gases waste, e.g. CH4, CO2, O3 etc.
Waste management is devoted to the presentation and discussion of information on waste generation, characterization, minimization, collection, separation, treatment and disposal as well as manuscripts that address management policy, education and economic and environmental assessments. Manuscript that focus on the reuse of waste material in a new product, for example plastics bottles use to make decorative materials like cup, basket etc by crafting. This types of reusing process is often more suitable for waste management system.
Different types of waste are emitted in the environment from different sources that are classified in to different categories on the basis of their properties, origin and effects on health and environment.
2.1 ON THE BASIS OF ORIGIN WASTE CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS FOLLOWS;
i) Domestic waste: It is generated from houses day to day, use of domestic premise such as garbage and rubbish, sewage sludge etc
ii) Agricultural waste: the waste which are generated from agricultural activities. They may be solid, liquid or gas and they also may be harmful to health and environment. In agriculture, different types of fertilizers, chemicals are used but not the all amount may be used by plants and the excess amount of fertilizers and chemicals meet to the water resources and some may be volatile which make the air pollution.
iii) Industrial waste: Different types of hazardous chemical and other solid, liquid, gases waste produced by industrial activities.
iv) Institutional waste: The waste emitted from different institutions like schools, collage, hospitals and other offices.
v) Construction and demolition waste: At construction zone many kinds of raw materials are generated as waste.
vi) Radioactive waste: Generally, radioactive waste are very dangerous for health and this type of waste are emitted from nuclear power generation, nuclear fission and nuclear technology.
Vii) Electronic waste: Discarded electronic or electrical devices are called electronic waste and it is also harmful for us. Proper management of it in Nepal is so difficult because it is non-degradable and recycling of it is not in our country.
2.2 ON THE BASIS OF PROPERTIES WASTE CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS:-
i) Bio-degradable solid waste: The solid waste which is capable to degrade after some times is known as biodegradable solid waste. It includes any organic matters which can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water, methane or simple organic matters. And it is easy to manage but careless and unconcern about the environment of people it leads a biggest problem.
ii) Non-bio-degradable solid waste: The waste can’t break down for many years. These can’t change in to manure and they pile up causing pollution in the environment. Only the recycling process is suitable solution for these types of waste management.
2.3 ON THE BASIS OF THEIR EFFECTS ON HUMAN HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT:-
i) Hazardous waste: The waste that has substantial or potential threat to public health and environment. Hazardous waste may be solid, liquid or gases. For example solvent based paints, pesticides and other chemicals, batteries, cleaning and polishing chemicals, mercury containing waste like thermometer, electronic devices etc.
ii) Non- hazardous waste: The waste that are not so threat to public health but without proper and regular management it also leads many problems . For example house hold garbage, animal manure and other general waste. If there is no proper drainage system and proper clean drinking water supply then there is maximum chance of contamination of clean drinking water in the cities.
3. PROBLEM AND CHALLENGES IN WASTE MANAGEMENT IN NEPAL
Specially, in Kathmandu valley, solid waste management is a big challenge, concerning the sitting of landfills. The current practice of the illegal dumping of solid waste on the river banks has created a serious public health and environmental problem. The data showed that >or =70% of solid waste generated in Nepal are of an organic origin (Review Article, Pokherel, Waste Management, 2005). So composting of the solid waste and using it for agriculture is the best way of solid waste management. This will reduce the volume of waste due to which increase the life time of landfill site. Composting practice is very helpful in agricultural improvement that lead economic growth i.e. food production.
Rapid population growth and increasing urbanization are considered as the main cause of pollution. Solid waste like garbage and other house hold waste dumped in the river banks and streets sites haphazardly leads to the air, water and soil pollution. This poses extreme health hazards to the public and surrounding environment. Since the garbage collection system is not well managed in Kathmandu valley, people dispose the garbage wherever possible mostly in the drainage and river banks. This has led to huge environmental problem deteriorating the health mankind and the other living beings. Due to the lack of knowledge people trash the garbage in a way they want. We can see garbage all around the Kathmandu city including in the roads, parks, even in hospitals. People throw the garbage without realizing that it is affecting their own health and deteriorate the future generation’s living standard.
4. MITIGATION STRATEGIES
At this time waste management is the major issue in Nepal. Without the proper waste management system, no one can imagine the well model society and suitable environment. So the most important thing to mitigate the waste management problem is education. If the education or awareness is not properly provided to public there is more difficult to manage the waste to make good environment. So, lunch the awareness programs by related sectors. Local public participation is the most important for better management of waste so, the relevant seminar, training and programs should be provided to local people by government promoting the 5R’s rules (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle) for motivating to people. Another basic point is initiation of formulate the policies strategies and action plan by local government and central government. Such as the concept of industrialization, urbanization, forestation zoning, and green urbanization, up cycling might be some of the best ways for mitigating waste products in respective fields.
Recycling Bins outside the Convenience store in Japan (Picture by Kanailal Chaudhary)
We live in a context in which waste production is continually increasing by increasing population so the measures at origin i.e. prevention before a product becomes waste. The principle aim is to reduce the quantity and types of hazardous substances used and to avoid adverse impact on human health and environment. In order to mitigate the municipal waste, we need to give emphasis to improved waste collection services, compost making practice at household level so that we can have double benefit from the garbage waste that releases from our house. Today’s villages are the tomorrow’s municipalities and tomorrow’s municipalities are the smart cities in the future. Therefore let’s mitigate the waste problems from basic level and let’s build smart village first.
(The writer is studying Masters of Environmental Science in Tribhuvan University Kathmandu).