Bidi Gram Panchayat (GP) in Belagavi district of Karnataka earns Rs. 50,000 a year from the sale of dry waste, thanks to the efforts of the women’s Self-Help Group (SHG) which is engaged in solid waste management (SWM). Their efforts have effectively increased waste collection to 70 per cent and segregation at source to 60 per cent.
The initiative has also created livelihood opportunities for women in the GP Gram Panchayat. The 5 member SHG team consists of 2 management personnel at the unit level, 3 collection staff, and a driver.
The GP is also maintaining a steady source of revenue through two main channels: user fee collection, contributing around Rs. 16,000 to Rs. 18,000 each month, and income from the sale of dry waste contributing up to Rs. 50,000 a year. Organic waste on the other hand is being managed by pit composting as the quantum is relatively lesser.
Intervention: Since 2021, UNICEF has been providing technical support to Sahaas, an NGO, to create 6 model solid waste management (SWM) GPs in Karnataka. To this end, Sahaas has been working in tandem with the Government of Karnataka’s (GoK) SWM Policy and strategy. One such strategy of the GoK was to involve SHG women in effectively handling solid waste in GPs while at the same time creating livelihood opportunities for women in communities.
Towards this, the Panchayat Development Officer (PDO) with the support of the UNICEF- Sahaas project discussed the scope of SWM with all the SHG groups in Bidi GP. An SHG named Nisarga expressed interest and signed an MoU with the GP. To support the SHG team, Sahaas organised capacity building, focusing on segregation and sorting of dry waste, and IEC to enhance household (HH) awareness in addition to personality development, soft skills, and methods to communicate and interact with households in addressing challenges.
Additionally, orientation was provided to different stakeholders such as PDO, GP staff, elected members, ASHA and Anganwadi workers, school teachers, volunteers, and other SHG members to ensure a uniform understanding of the issue of solid waste management.
Challenges: Two major challenges faced by the SHG managing SWM units in Bidi were the meek response from residents towards segregation and handing over waste to collection staff and the issue of non-payment of user fees. To address this, Sahaas with the support of the GPs has been providing handholding support by conducting intensive IEC sessions on the need for user fees and the importance of source segregation. The collection staff visited households and commercial shops in this regard.
Furthermore, by scheduling the collection of user fees between the 1st and 10th of every month and reminding households about the due date one week prior to the collection has shown improvement in user fee collection. Similarly, daily logs of collection and segregation of waste from households have helped identify households that were not adhering to the SWM rules and approach them to undertake awareness building.
Inputs: S. Geetha Krishna, WASH consultant UNICEF HFO; Mayur Saobji, Project Coordinator, Sahaas