By Sagar Tamrakar

Solid Waste Management

get any messier
land of scarcity. That’s what Nepal is fast turning into—especially by way of water supply. And in terms of sanitation and solid waste management, the country has to learn a lot more lessons—both at the administrative and consumer levels. The concept that wastage is not to be recycled but to be dumped has also aggravated the problem further. Conserving water, following the due sanitation process, and recycling waste—that’s what the endeavour should be; while NGOs, communities and even business houses have been involved in these areas, citizens at large are yet to fully buy into these concepts. Which is surprising; for example, traditionally, in the field of waste management, Nepalis had their viable mechanisms. Says Bhushan Tuladhar, director, Environment and Public Health Organisation: “Our traditions had some highly recommendable ways of dealing with waste. Some 60 years ago, Newars used to sell their waste at Rs 0.5/kg which would mean three things—that waste had a value, that waste could be managed and that one who generated the waste was responsible for its management.” He adds, “Besides household treatments, centralised institutional treatment of wastes is also a must, and that needs to be led by the government and operated by the private sector.”

It can’t


In the national scenario, water supply reaches 80 percent of Nepal’s populace. “The Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) targets to raise the coverage to cent percent by 2017 as indicated by the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation National Policy and Strategy, a joint strategy of the government, donor agencies, DDCs, VDCs and the local communities,” says Birendra Man Shakya, chief superintending engineer, Water Quality Improvement and Monitoring Project, DWSS. But as Tuladhar points out, “Irrespective of the water-supply reach, the reliability and quality of water stands as a major concern—the quality is poor. And in reality,

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© the boss photo file/Sanchit Lamichhane

Water, Sanitation and


The major challenge that hinders achieving the target is inadequate resource allocation compared to the size of the project. The total budget required for the project is Rs 3.5 billion, but this fiscal year, only Rs 9.75 million has been allocated for the project. BIRENDRA MAN SHAKYA
chief superintending engineer Water Quality Improvement & Monitoring Project, DWSS

the supply is less than 50 percent of the demand.” Shakya specifies, “Nepal’s status in water supply is on par with that of other South Asian countries; and this despite the fact that countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have the benefit of plain land. The problem with our water supply is that 38 percent of it requires rehabilitation; only 12 percent of the population are being supplied with safe water which has come through treatment plants.” Shakya elaborates, “Since the basic water-supply reach is already 80 percent, the 100-percent target can be achieved within the stipulated time; but increasing the quality of water—as per the Nepal Drinking Water Quality Standards prescribed by the government on 27 June 2006—to 50 percent is somewhat unachievable.” DWSS has a five-year target to provide safe water to cities or areas having a population of at least 10,000, but Shakya now thinks that the target is not attainable. Therefore, a steering committee has been formed to set a new date for fulfilling the target. Shakya points out, “The major challenge that hinders achieving the target is inadequate resource allocation compared to the size of the project. The total budget required for the project is Rs 3.5 billion, but

this fiscal year, only Rs 9.75 million has been allocated for the project.” But despite the budget crunch, work has been going on. Says Shakya, “We have been carrying out our work as per the allocated resources and we have completed 29 Semi-Urban/Urban Water Supply Projects which cater to 500,000 people, and 15 water treatment plant projects which cater to 200,000 people in 15 different districts. This year, six drinking water projects are running, and 15 such projects have been planned for 2011.” Tuladhar, too, complains about the budgetary constraints. He says, “The budget is insufficient, plus it is not being implemented properly as no resource mobilisation has taken place which is evident from the disastrous situation of Bagmati.” But Shakya

points out that DWSS’s mandate excludes the Kathmandu valley. Shakya tries to sum it all up: “In all the drinking water projects, we try to make sure that water remains safe at the source. But even if treated, the water quality remains dependent on how the water is collected, stored and utilised in the households. To make sure that these things are in place, DWSS conducts different awareness campaigns regarding different ways of purif ying water, like boiling, filtering, chlorination and solar disinfection (SODIS). We also plan to have sustainable ‘safe-water campaigns’ to improve health conditions, then we will have Safe Water Zones and integrate them as Healthy Zones.” Perhaps more than water management, it’s sanitation management that is of a bigger concern in the context of Nepal where more than half the population is devoid of toilet services. Excreta management is also seriously lacking—most of the time it is a case of simply disposing it straight into the nearby river— Bagmati, a dire example of this practice. “There exists 43 percent sanitation coverage, particularly in hand-washing, safe disposal of human excreta in toilet and household cleanliness in Nepal. DWSS targets


© the boss photo file/Sanu/Nibendra/Sanchit

The perception of the toilet as a tangible indicator of sanitation has changed now – when we talk about sanitation, we make sure that the area is Open Defecation Free (ODF). KAMAL ADHIKARY
sociologist, DWSS

Sanitation coverage in Nepal
District Kailali Bardiya Banke Morang Siraha Mahottari Rautahat Chitwan hh 94,430 59,569 67,269 167,907 98,754 94,229 88,162 92,863 No. of latrines coverage 36,906 16,347 33,882 69,939 18,730 16,785 15,150 73,412 39% 27% 50% 41% 19% 18% 17% 79%

estimated hh no. of latrines MDG target 119,565 75,425 68,413 212,599 125,040 119,310 111,628 117,581 83,695 48,272 51,309 150,946 74,399 70,393 65,302 105,234 70% 64% 75% 71% 60% 59% 58% 89%

total 46,789 31,925 17,427 81,007 55,669 53,608 50,152 each yr each mth 3,342 2,280 1,245 5,786 3,976 3,829 3,582 2,273 279 190 104 482 331 319 299 189

Population growth rate estimated at 1.7% 90
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Deepesh Budhathoki MD, Nepal Kalpabriksha, www.nepalkalpabriksha.com
An MBA graduate who was running a successful restaurant in Thamel, Deepesh Budhathoki quit the restaurant business to run a solid-waste compost plant and an organic farm. This paradigm shift, although he attributes it to his poor health and latenight schedules in the restaurant, was fuelled by his father’s passion for the field and his botanist mother’s technical guidance. Putting all his efforts into collecting and recycling/ composting waste, Budhathoki has been providing a cheap and reasonable way out for solid waste that is finding no firm way of disposal in Kathmandu, while at the same time advancing to a lucrative career. His contention is that the world is facing a food crisis because agriculture is gradually being displaced either because people are getting engaged in other activities or that the fertile soil is being contaminated due to excessive use of chemical fertilisers/pesticides. Budhathoki believes that the entire crisis can be overcome by going organic. Yes, he knows that chemical fertilisers give instant benefit, but those benefits amount to nothing in the long run because the chemicals will ultimately kill the fertility of the soil. As a middle path, he says he would prefer the use of “mixed fertiliser” because ordinary compost fertilisers do not contain as much chemicals as are required for the crops. But resources like bone meal and oil cake which are required for composting are not easily available; he also feels that it’s the lack of awareness among the farmers that compels them to use chemical fertilisers excessively. “Composting is showing a growing trend; its future prospect is good because people are gradually becoming conscious of nutrition, health and hygiene. People pay premium amounts for organic vegetables nowadays because they are health conscious and want to stay away from vegetables produced by using chemical fertilisers/ to achieve cent percent sanitation coverage by 2017 as per which, approximately 14,000 latrines need to be constructed each month for the next 12 years,” says Kamal Adhikary, sociologist, DWSS, Environmental Sanitation and Disaster Management Section. He says, “The allocated central budget is utilised in two ways—a water supply project embedding sanitation promotion or stand-alone sanitation covering only hygiene issues; besides, in collaboration with private organisations, we conduct advocacy and awareness campaigns pesticides,” he says. It has been a year and a half that he started the four ton/day-capacity compost plant, but the current production level is at one ton per day due to insufficient solid waste which he gets from the Kalimati vegetable bazaar. Initially, he was working on a trial basis, but now he has achieved some sort of perfection in decomposing solid waste, and has been able to think of capacity building, mechanisation and going commercial. Composting helps get rid of solid waste, 70-75 percent of which is organic; it also gets rid of our dependency on chemical fertilisers/ pesticides from foreign countries. Along with fertilisers, Budhathoki has also been producing bio controls, pesticides like Trichoderma harzianum, Viridie pseudomonas, and Bacillus. He points out that Trichoderma is the best—albeit slow in its effect—for fungal infections in plants, except mushroom; and it has also multiple functions with its uses as fertilizer and pesticide For Budhathoki, the initial days of running the plant were all about experimentation with fertilizers and pesticides—much more so because of the contrasting topography of Nepal—mountains and plains. It’s only recently that the trial sessions came to an end. Budhathoki has his complaints against the government. He says, “The government is acting ignorant and neglecting an area where governments of developed nations and even India are showing great interest. The monitoring of the quality of compost leaves much to be desired. The quality of fertilisers differs from place to place—normally, there is a country-specific standard, but in Nepal, the standards have not been specified by the agency concerned.” The Department of Fertiliser, Ministry of Agriculture, is the government body supposed to be in charge of the sector, but it’s conspicuous by its lack of action, says Budhathoki. On its part, the fertiliser department ought to bring out soilthrough radio and TV advertisements. In addition, DWSS also sees to it that the budgets of the District Development Corporation, Village Development Corporation and municipality are used to improve the local resources for sanitation—these bodies have adequate budget, institutional strength and community penetration, but lack adequate orientation towards sanitation. The perception of the toilet as a tangible indicator of sanitation has changed now. We borrowed the new concept from the South Asian Conference on

friendly policies—it’s only then that the people would be encouraged to do the kind of business that Budhathoki is doing. This also means the government should draft entrepreneur-friendly policies. Budhathoki says that the government needs to play the role of a facilitator and open up “efficient paths” for entrepreneurs like him by offering subsidies on equipment and/or other materials required for the plant. Turnover Budhathoki aims to upgrade the capacity of his plant to 5-6 tonnes per day over a period of the next one and a half years. He reveals that the profit margin is about 10 percent, and the average selling price Rs 15/kg, giving him a net profit of Rs 1500/day by producing one ton/day of compost fertiliser. Distribution network He distributes his products via agrovets, co-operatives, farmers’ groups and NGOs. Currently, his market is spread over the periphery of Kathmandu, in places like Dhading, Kavre and Bhaktapur. He now plans to expand it to Panchkhal, Kaski, Chitwan and Makwanpur. In the meantime, Budhathoki has also been conducting training sessions for farmers at his compost factory, which, he says, would be both beneficial to the farmers and his own business.

Sanitation (SACOSAN)—held in Bangladesh in 2003— that when we talk about sanitation, we make sure that the area is Open Defecation Free (ODF). Since then, we have also been enhancing Community-led Total Sanitation and School-led Total Sanitation programmes, and have declared 55 VDCs, 250 school catchments and 250 communities as ODF. On a small scale, the trend has had a sweeping effect.” Meanwhile, under the aegis of DWSS, the National Hygiene and Sanitation Master Plan has been formulated recently. It is a strategic

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vision document on how the scattered efforts could be synchronised and how the funding mechanism could be streamlined. A steering committee involving representatives from MoLD, MoPPW, MoHP, MoE has been formed to materialise the master plan whose agenda is the declaration of ODF zones, total sanitation strengthening, capacity building of user community, and reaching seemingly inaccessible rural areas. This master plan ultimately targets poverty alleviation. Although Kathmandu is 100 percent equipped with latrines, the capital, apparently, is more unsafe than the rural areas—again, the state of the Bagmati river being a sore indicator. Adhikary comments, “The efforts at cleaning Bagmati are ceremonial—good in terms of advocacy/awareness point of view, but without a tangible output. A special fund is a must if we want a clean Bagmati, guided by a strong institution run under regulatory mechanisms. It’s not that nothing is being done in the case of Bagmati—there’s been a lot of effort, but it all ends up nowhere due to frequent changes in the government. There is a serious lack of synchronisation in the efforts to make them have a

cumulative impact.” Tuladhar looks at the matter this way: “There are plenty of solutions for cleaning Bagmati, but they have only been taken up on a small scale by organisations like Nepal River Conservation Trust, Friends of Bagmati, Bagmati Service Committee, Rotary Club Yala, etc. What’s lacking is centralised institutional-level treatment. Bagmati’s recharge sources have slumped—as in the case of the Sundarijal’s water which has been diverted for drinking water purposes and groundwater generation. Massive urbanisation has also played a big role, what with all the concrete structures of Kathmandu. The only way to revive Bagmati is to recharge it with treated waste water. A Waste Water

Management (WWM) model has been put forth by the government as a Bagmati Action Plan. Here, the government should play the role of a facilitator and encourage private players to be involved.” Some of the challenges that the centralised waste-water management is facing involve the transportation of waste water to collect it at the central plant, and the installation of a high-tech central plant which cannot presently be borne by Nepal’s electricity supply; therefore, Tuladhar points out: “The more practical way to go about it is localised waste-water treatment. Nevertheless, decentralised treatment alone cannot be a solution for a city like Kathmandu; we should go for combined waste-water treatment.”

The government-endorsed Bagmati Action Plan should be implemented, which will certainly solve the seemingly unmanagable problem because Bagmati is a small river and Kathmandu is a small city in comparison to highly polluted cities like Delhi and Mumbai. BHUSHAN TULADHAR
director, ENPHO

Hari Govinda Prajapati Pioneer CS Filter manufacturer, Madhyapur Clay Craft www.solutionsbenefitinglife.com
Hari Govinda Prajapati’s family used to manufacture goods out of clay, and back in 1980, they started making clay water filter tanks by fixing Indian candles and sold them. Later in 1987, on receiving training from the Ceramic Promotion Project, Prajapati became a lab technician and gained the technical know-how of manufacturing filter candles. Prajapati says, “The candle-making business could not last long as we do not get white clay in Nepal; even other raw materials as well as steel caps
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needed to be imported which made our candles more expensive than the imported ones.” This halted his filter candle production until 2004 when he came to know about a more advanced filter system, the colloidal silver (CS) filter disc, and started producing it. As it was totally new for Nepal, that year, he was able to sell 30 filters only. But today, his annual sales have crossed more than 2000 filters. He sells CS filters largely to the rural areas—as it turns out to be cheap—but faces problems in transporting them because they are made of clay. Therefore, he started manufacturing the filters in different parts of Nepal—Kailali, Nepalgunj, Deukhuri, Tulsipur, Nawalparasi, Kapilbastu and Damauli—for their distribution in those areas. Prajapati also trained people in those areas on how to make filter tanks, and supplied them with the CS filter discs. He has set a distribution channel through cooperative societies in the respective districts. He is the only CS disc producer in Nepal; therefore, he faces no competition. CS discs are much more efficient than filter candles because their filtration rate is 16 times higher, cost half the price, and the raw materials are available in the country itself. Prajapati claims, “The CS filter that we have been producing is probably the cheapest filter in the world, which is capable of filtering substance as small as microbes and keeping the water cool. The 18-litre filter costs Rs 500.”


Actually, there are four centralised waste-water treatment plants in the valley, but all of them non-functional—like Guheswari because of poor management and electricity supply, and Sundarighat because the waste water never gets there. Tuladhar claims to have a completely sustainable model for Bagmati, which includes Shivapuri watershed area protection with minimal use of chemical fertilisers/pesticides in the surrounding area, use of toilets for disposing excreta, wastewater management of houses constructed in a massive scale in the downward region, and then the recharging of Bagmati with the rainwater that collects at the TIA premises. Tuladhar says, “By taking these steps, the entire Bagmati can be recharged. But it has to be a combined effort—waiting for the government to get everything done is simply silly.” He says that individual households, hotels and offices should be encouraged to recycle waste water to save the subsurface water, the level of which is decreasing by the day at a high rate. Says Tuladhar, “The governmentendorsed Bagmati Action Plan should be implemented, which will certainly solve the seemingly unmanageable problem because Bagmati is a small river and Kathmandu is a small city in comparison to highly polluted cities like Delhi and Mumbai of India.” Another key problem adding stench to the Bagmati is the existence of slums along its banks. This is detrimental to both - the slums heavily contribute to the pollution of the river and it is a matter of health hazard for those who dwell along the flood plains. Therefore, they should be relocated to some other places for the betterment of both. If the slums are relocated to some other places then corporate houses like VOITH, Chaudhary Group, Hotel Dwarika’s and many more are ready to build gardens along the banks of Bagmati as a part of their CSR. Dipendra B Oli, legal officer, Solid Waste Management and Resource Mobilisation Centre (SWMRMC), Ministry of Local Development, says, “Solid Waste Management (SWM) has been guided by two legislations—the Solid Waste Management and Resource Mobilisation Act which governs the centre and Local Governance Act; and the Local Governance Act Article 96 Ga 7 which defines that the solid waste should be regulated by the municipality, with its responsibilities including collection, transportation and final disposal of waste to the dumping site of the valley, and providing technical assistance (municipality/HR capacity building and landfill site selection) to the municipalities outside the valley. The daily activities should be handled by the municipality itself, whereas the construction and maintenance of the landfill site ought to


Farmers in Siddhipur, Lalitpur who have been applying human urine as an organic fertiliser in their farmland, took an innovative initiative for environmental sanitation by establishing the first Urine Bank in Nepal. The bank started its operation on 17 May with the support of NGOs EAWAG (Swiss Federal Institute of be handled by the centre.” But Tuladhar finds a major discrepancy in the Act. He says, “We keep hankering after the dumping site, but the ground reality is that we should be trying to learn about solid waste management through recycling/reusing.” Of late, SWMRMC has started making efforts to recycle SW via different ways, but on small scales—composting, vermicomposting, paper recycling and biogas production. Oli opines, “Although they are being done on a

Aquatic Science and Technology) and UNHABITAT. Urine collection centres have been established in other parts of the village to ease the farmers in collecting urine from the bank. In the past, villagers had to depend on chemical fertilisers, which offered them instant benefit of high yield but lowered the nutritional value of crops and decreased soil productivity to a greater degree. Hence, they began using fertilisers derived from urine which is eco-friendly and doesn’t cause any harmful health impact. Urine is diluted by adding sufficient amount of water prior to its application in cultivation. A staff does door-to-door collection of urine and brings it to the bank. Thus collected urine is stored in two reserve tanks, each with a 1000-litre storage capacity. The bank provides urine to the farmers at the rate of one rupee per litre to generate fund for its operation and management. Fifty percent of the amount raised in this way is saved in its own bank account, while the remaining is paid to the staff. which use solid waste as resources; the encouragement comes in the form of land lease, and tax rebate on the equipment being used for recycling the waste.” But Tuladhar counters, “SWM entrepreneurs have not been getting such facilities and they are only confined to documents. Yet, they have been generating substantial amount of income from the business. There are about a dozen entrepreneurs running compost plants of various kinds.” The SWM Act 2066 has been


The government has formulated policies to encourage the public to invest in ventures which use solid waste as resources; the encouragement comes in the form of land lease, and tax rebate on the equipment being used for recycling the waste. DIPENDRA BAHADUR OLI
legal officer, SWMRMC, MoLD

small scale, they are proof that solid waste management can be done on a large scale by improvising on these practices.” Since solid waste management is being carried out in a haphazard manner in the major cities of Nepal, SWMRM is attempting to solve it by taking solid waste as a resource and utilising it instead of simply dumping it—the project is to be a public-private partnership venture, and already 11 bidders have been short-listed. Says Oli, “The government has formulated policies to encourage the public to invest in ventures

tabled in the parliament, but has not yet been passed, and the reason for it, says Tuladhar, is lack of priority accorded to the sector. Says Oli, “Policy implementation is lacking largely due to the lack of local government—elected local bodies. SWM is not the topmost priority because there are a lot of other problems the country is facing. Still the budget for SWM has been increasing annually, but the central budget on solid waste is focused on Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Biratnagar as ‘Phase 1 districts’.”

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