30 Sep 2011
Managing solid waste through public private partnership
Until few years ago the sanitation situation of Biratnagar Municipality, a major industrial hub and the second largest city in Nepalwas in a bad condition. Garbage was left in the open in public places. The Municipality was not able to provide a door-to-door collection service or sanitary disposal of solid wastes. According to the city data for 2008 Biratnagar, this densely populated city with 22 wards produces about 55 tons of garbage everyday.
The institutionalized form of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Nepal started with the Ministry of Local Development executed and UNDP funded Public-Private Partnerships for Urban Environment (PPPUE) project in 2002. Until the initiation of PPPUE, the concept and utility of the PPP approach in the provision of basic services and infrastructure was not clear in Nepal. The PPPUE project and its partners have raised awareness of the potential of public private partnerships at both local and national levels and have gone a long way in creating an enabling environment for PPPs in local urban service delivery with increased access of the poor to basic services. With this initiation, the Biratnagar Municipality became the first Municipality as such to involve private sector in solid waste management services in the city.
Currently, the entire solid waste management in Biratnagar is handled by ‘Health and Peace for Environment’. This private operator is responsible for all levels of waste handling, from primary collection of wastes from streets, commercial areas and households until the final disposal takes place.
Mani Dahal, vice chairperson in the company operating in the city for about 5 months says, “The main functions carried out by us are household collection of wastes, street sweeping, roadside drain cleaning, removal of dead animals, recruitment and training of waste management for staff, public and local residents. Altogether we are collecting garbage from 1365 households and have plans to cover 4000 households within the year.”
The private operator collects fees from the households to cover operational and administrative costs of the collection. The fee ranges from Rs. 100 to Rs. 300 depending upon the demand of service from households. “We have 166 labourers collecting garbage two times every day, out of that 46 staff are from Municipality. The garbage collectors are paid Rs. 150 per day or Rs. 5000 per month depending upon their contracts and they are also paid for their overtime”, adds Mani Dahal.
“The most challenging part is the awareness of the community. As for those households covered by the private operator, the households have been given two buckets on a cost sharing basis by the private operator and the municipality. The bio-degradable and non-biodegradable items are separated at the source of collection or the household level”, says Poonam Dahal, the municipal focal point for PPP.
With the project’s success in coordinating the role of private sector and the Municipality in managing the solid waste, the project’s focus has now turned towards revenue generating possibilities such as recycling products, establishing compost chambers to produce fertilizers, bio-gas attached to toilets etc.
The involvement of the community is noteworthy in all the activities. The Tole Lane Organisations or the User Groups monitor and participate in the Municipality consultation forums for public services related to the communities. PPPUE also aims to facilitate the sustainability of community based efforts by providing trainings for community groups and raising awareness of households on waste separation and recovery at different levels. This includes the training of local school teachers on source segregation and other waste management techniques to ensure the information is transmitted to students and, through them, to parents as well.
Madhu Rai runs a school and is an active member of the Users Committee. At her own initiative she has opened up a small business in her house to make dustbins, pencil case, purse and fruit baskets out of the non-bio degradable items such as the covers of instant noodles and biscuits. She has also trained some and sells her products in hotels and schools in Biratnagar. The Municipality is also hiring her as a resource person for trainings.
By instituting the public private partnership arrangements for solid waste management, PPPUE has helped to turn this municipal service into a commercially viable enterprise, which has helped to provide both; basic services to the community and employment opportunity for the people. Positive lessons from Biratnagar’s experience in waste management have been adopted in Dhangadi and Birgunj Municipalities as well.
PPPUE is supporting to bring private, community or other non-state actor involvement in service delivery and infrastructure traditionally provided through the public sector in five priority sectors — Solid waste management, Urban sanitation, Water supply and distribution, Renewable energy and Roads and transportation service.
Most importantly, the Morang Kabadi (Scrap Dealers) Association is an active body trying to cooperate with the Municipality in keeping the city organised, green and clean.
According to Ram Bali Shah who leads the Association, “We 102 members who are registered with the Municipality are ready to invest in infrastructure for storing reusable scrap if the Municipality provides land and necessary logistics like electricity. We have irons, papers, plastics which can all be recycled. The paper factories, iron rod factories and polythene pipe factories are our main clients. Our Association has also hired about 40 women who go from door to door to collect waste materials.”