NIUA’s recent efforts in building capacity in waste management

The National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) has been seen as a key partner organization for various capacity building initiatives that are part of the flagship urban development programs of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission (SCM) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). Through this article, Hitesh Vaidya, Director, NIUA and Paramita Datta Fromy, Chief, Resources and Waste, NIUA, share their experiences and perspectives on one of these dynamic programs, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).

Launched on October 2, 2014, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) or SBM (U) is one of the most ambitious initiatives undertaken by the Indian government. The mission had the dual objective of making urban India free from open defecation as well as 100% scientific management of solid waste. To achieve this, it was important to build the capacity and knowledge of city officials, who had the difficult task of implementing and securing the guidelines set out in the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

On behalf of MoHUA, NIUA was entrusted with the task of organizing training and exhibition workshops for local urban organizations (ULB) from 2016 to 2020. During these five years, the institute organized 154 workshops spread over 58 sites in India which witnessed the participation of 6,160 officials and elected officials from 3,221 Urban Territorial Communities.

Also read: Support integrated solid waste management initiatives

This program has been designed with the needs of the participants in mind. Therefore, a variety of features were incorporated which ultimately led to its popularity. These include providing field exposure, enabling cross-learning efforts, workshops designed for small towns, the incorporation and use of sustainable and green products, and an emphasis on convergence. This coherent plan made it possible to build an efficient and easily reproducible model. To begin with, the institute organized training-of-trainers workshops and partnered with experts and organizations who had in-depth knowledge of the subject as well as local conditions. This enabled an efficient dissemination of knowledge.

Each three-day workshop began by orienting participants on the policies, practices and technologies for effective management of solid waste, wastewater, and faecal sludge and sludge management (FSSM) on the first day. The second day was exclusively reserved for field visits for the demonstration of centralized and decentralized waste management technologies. These sites have been carefully chosen to highlight innovative good practices implemented across the country to be adopted by other ULBs in the cluster. These sites were chosen from 58 cities across India and included visits to landfills, energy recovery plants, construction and demolition waste recycling plants, decentralized waste composting sites wetlands, material recovery facilities (MRF), anaerobic digestion plants, faecal sludge treatment. Plant Management Center (FSTP) and Solid and Liquid Resources (SLRM). Visits were also organized to integrated waste management facilities to show how a combination of technologies can work when put together.

The final day started with a summary of what has been communicated over the previous two days. This recapitulation was done through group activities and a quiz to test the knowledge that the participants were able to assimilate during the training and the field visits. One of the most important sessions of the closing day focused on developing a financially viable and sustainable waste management plan for cities. It ended with a presentation by the participants of the economic models they imagined. It was followed by feedback and an impact assessment. These assessments carried out at the individual and group level helped to compare knowledge before and after the workshop and whether participants’ perspectives had broadened and myths dispelled. The pre and post workshop evaluations were mapped through a survey in the last round. The comments indicate an improvement of almost 12 percent in the understanding and knowledge of the participants. To practice what was being preached, ensured that these were green events which included workshop kits that included metal or glass water bottles, recycled paper notepads , symbolic prizes and souvenirs made from recycled materials.

As a result of this trip and with the overall aim of disseminating the lessons and experiences to a wider audience willing to work for sustainable waste management, NIUA has produced a series of knowledge products and compendiums. These documents are a compilation of various waste management practices and innovative approaches undertaken and initiated across the country. It provides information on cities that have demonstrated commendable efforts in solid waste management practices. Additionally, with appetite and ease of learning in mind, the team developed a portal bringing together information and data collected in various cities over the past five years. The portal is an interactive GIS platform that offers the user the opportunity to walk the journey of several sustainable and innovative practices adopted in Indian cities. With the click of a button, one can navigate the entire waste management value chain from collection, transport, treatment, treatment and disposal, through cities classified into different sizes and population characteristics (such as tourist towns, capitals and administrative towns, industrial and commercial towns and pioneers). The impact of the project has been far-reaching across the country and the same is evidenced through the “impact stories” and “feedbacks” from participants.

Also read: eGov June 2017 :: Telangana becomes a leader in waste management

The achievements of these workshops are due to the complete and inclusive format of the workshop. The workshops provided a holistic cross-learning opportunity. We present some of the main takeaways:

Town twinning: In the future, the various “Swachh Survekshans” or national surveys on cleanliness gathered information and rewarded the best performing cities. Those who have achieved considerable success on a large scale can be the mentors and thus help a beneficiary city (mentee) or a small group of cities to soak up the lessons and take the lead in implementing the good practices.

Cross-learning between cities: Cities can be clubbed and dedicated workshops can be designed for cities with similar challenges and opportunities (e.g. those located in hilly areas, coastal areas or known as religious or pilgrimage cities) .

Scaling up workshops for elected officials: Based on the good response received from the workshops conducted for elected officials, it is interesting to extend it to all elected officials in the country.

Workshops for target groups of stakeholders: Our experience has shown that there is a need to organize workshops for certain target groups such as ground officials (Swachh Mitras and Safai Mitras) and bulk waste generators (e.g. , RWAs, educational institutes, office complexes, hotels, etc.). Workshops for Safai Mitras have already been initiated for ULBs that participated in the ‘Safai Mitra Suraksha Challenge’ (the challenge for ‘Machine Hole to Man Hole’).

Linking waste management to the creation of green jobs and a circular economy: the concept of circularity in waste management is very promising when it is promoted through the use of biodegradable, upcycled and recycled products. It will also facilitate the development of the skills of marginalized groups in the preparation of these products and contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions, thus contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 11.6.

Swachh Melas or periodic fairs can serve as marketplaces for the exhibition of innovative, affordable and local technologies and products in waste management as well as the display and sale of biodegradable, recycled and recycled products.

Also read: eGov August 2018 – Telangana A leader in waste management

Conducting an SBM scholarship program can give students and young people the exposure essential to understand the realities on the ground by working with institutions and stakeholders in this sector (e.g. working with ULBs).

The thesis competitions on waste management and circularity will be a good channel to enrich the sector with fresh and innovative ideas from young minds.

Creation of a national alliance for waste management: the establishment of training institutes, agencies and experts will accelerate collaborations to obtain results. This has been incorporated into the SBM 2.0 guidelines and efforts to create dedicated “Centers of Excellence” have been initiated.

Establish learning platforms: curriculum development, electronic modules, learning and gamification applications, online and face-to-face training and site visits, personalized courses linked to projects at City-wide, certified MoHUA and NIUA approved courses related to “Swachh Survekshan” or annual cleanliness surveys and associated protocols, are imperative. Much of this is taken up as part of the MoHUA and NIUA National Urban Learning Platform.

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