Fiinovation engages in developing simple solutions for complicated problems, striving to address environmental conservation, livelihood generation, health and educational enhancement holistically in the proposals it designs. “Swachdhara” is one such initiative. It addresses the problem of solid waste management in Ujjain. Ujjain a major pilgrimage in India observes huge influx of millions during various religious occasions. These floating population and poor waste management infrastructure paralyze the city’s hygiene completely. The unorganized sector of rag pickers goes around cleaning the city to some extent to earn their daily needs. This duty free service to the environment and civic society is never recognized and even looked down upon.
The project “Swachdhara” proposes initiatives where constitution and alignment of Rag picker’s Federation would be undertaken with sustainable waste management practices and through value addition for sustained livelihood security. Capacity building of the rag pickers, community sensitization and participation forms an integral part of the endeavor. Thus the interventions suggested incorporate training the rag pickers on safe and scientific techniques of waste collection, waste segregation and recycling techniques in collaboration with appropriate government institutions and experts from research organizations. Subsequently the videos and photographs of the training would be screened in all the municipal wards for awareness generation and community sensitization so that the community appreciates and participates enthusiastically towards making Ujjain a cleaner city. This would initiate a major behavioral change among the community.
As per the project design meetings would also be organized with participation from government stakeholders, members of residential associations, business associations for consensus on improving the waste collection, segregation and recycling strategies adopted in the area. In-order to improve the insufficient infrastructure of waste collection, segregation and recycling, the rag pickers would be capacitated with gloves, brooms, scoopers, handcarts, mini dumper, and waste recycling machines. Each one of them will be employed to cater to 200 households respectively for door to door household collection. They would also be instilling in the community household level segregation and hence will collect segregated waste. In lieu of this nominal fees would be collected at household level. This would inevitably lead to rise in their income and purchasing capacity. Bank accounts of these rag pickers would be opened in order to instill in them a savings habit. This would provide economical security in the long run. Furthermore, large bins would be placed at equal intervals on the streets to enable dumping of segregated wastes from shops, restaurants, educational institutions and commercial buildings. The dumper truck would enable efficient waste collection and transportation following fuel efficiency routes. The biodegradable waste would be taken to compost generation unit.
The compost generated would also be sold to consumers who may be from the city or from the rural areas in the outskirts of the city. Moreover facilitation of direct linkages would be established with recycling units of non biodegradable wastes through the concerned NGO. These non bio degradable wastes would be sold to the recycling units by the rag pickers themselves eliminating the interference of the middlemen. Additionally, the conclave between the bank and the rag pickers federation would enable them in withdrawing loans for setting up their own waste up-cycling units. Thus by all the above means earning of the rag pickers would definitely increase and is sustainable. The concerned NGO would also be engaged in making linkages between government hospitals and the rag pickers. This would enable them to be aware of various free health facilities, have health cards, and avail free medical aid. Regular and specialized health camps will aid in improved health condition in their squatter settlements. Improvement of literacy rate would also be undertaken for both the children and adult population of the rag pickers family. Since income has been already ensured, the rag pickers need not to take their children for waste collection. The children of the rag pickers would be enrolled in nearest government schools. Measures through different government schemes would be taken up for these underserved children in collaboration with the school authority to prevent drop outs. Adult literacy classes would also be conducted in the squatter settlements. Such a holistic approach ensuring livelihood security, environmental conservation, literacy rate and improved health condition can prove to be an exemplary work to be followed in other parts of India.
Fiinovation designs such projects through converging CSR and CSOs visions evidently delivering sustainable, equitable socio economic development, environmental conservation, livelihood generation and improved literacy.
By – Dr. Abira Dutta Roy