Bangladesh's economy has developed considerably in the last few years, helping to bring millions of people out of poverty. With an estimated population of about 15 million, Dhaka is not only the capital of Bangladesh but at the same time one of Asia's megacities. Rapid urbanization and increasing incomes have caused waste generation in Dhaka city to soar. At the same time, capacity in the waste collection and disposal authority is limited. This has led to serious pollution, congestion of water bodies and smell due to uncollected waste, especially in poorer areas. As incomes rise further, larger amounts of waste are expected, with ever growing fractions of recyclables. These recyclables present an economic opportunity.
In its first phase (2013-2016) the Value for Waste project of Swisscontact is addressing the challenge of solid waste management in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka - one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The project's main focus is on keeping the value of recyclables intact by encouraging their segregation at source in households and ensuring that waste and recyclables are collected separately in an efficient and safe manner. Recyclables that are kept clean fetch a higher price on the market, and get recycled in larger quantities. Less waste needs to be landfilled, environmental pollution is reduced, and the recycling sector grows.
At neighbourhood level, the key implementing partners are the local resident's association and/or the local service provider in charge of door-to-door waste collection. At municipal level, the project relies on the endorsement and involvement of municipal and government authorities who allocate space for waste management and operate waste transfer stations. The project also works with schools and universities to ensure a broad and sustainable impact, and promotes green businesses producing goods from recycled domestic waste.
In individual neighbourhoods, 200,000 residents of Dhaka will benefit from a better environment through their involvement at personal and community level. Along the recycling value chain, 300 workers will benefit from improved working conditions due to increased quantity and quality of recyclables. 1,200 students will get sensitized and involved in project activities. Overall, the project will contribute to urban environmental protection, and more particularly climate change adaptation and disaster (flood) risk reduction.
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