Pinagkaisahan Example of Best Practice
This page is fundamentally about people who wanted to improve their living conditions
via actions taken by themselves - for themselves - benefiting themselves
... via this...
... and this...
... to finally reach better living conditions.
The real success of the project is found in the additional work carried out in the most active of the barangays; Pinagkaisahan. The project developed a small scale Eco Center that now works as the heart of a concrete, hands-on Solid Waste Management System with an adapted Material Recovery Facility (MRF); all in order to serve as the desired Best Practice Example.
Owing to very strong and dedicated barangay management, enthusiastic staff, and - with time - relatively cooperative inhabitants the project has managed to reduce the number of truck loads collecting residual waste from eight (8) per week in the beginning of the project down to two (2) today - and even in the process of reducing to one (1) truck per week. This remarkable reduction of 75% or even more shows that it is possible to achieve significant positive results with limited budgets.
In the following the development, experiences, and practical outcome are described with texts and pictures. The page is rather extensive but you will surely appreciate the pictures and learn from the the practical hands-on way the project was developed and implemented and how it succeeded.
The texts and pictures are divided into various
sections as listed below.
If you have an interest in starting a similar project and if you are considering the possibility to get support from Sida, please read here.
The Council approved the resolution regarding the project. The political opposition was not just against the project for the sake of being against it, but everyone realized that the project was for everybody's good.
The SWM Team - the Eco Brigade - started collecting the household waste in the pilot area (of around 100 households). The "no segregation - no collection" rule was emphasized by person-to-person discussions.
Various campaigns were accomplished to inform, to encourage and - in a way - to force the inhabitants to positively participate in the project. It was most important that all actions were founded on the level of the inhabitants - the Empowerment Principle - so the project was not considered to demand extra resources in terms of money and (too much) work.
Practical arrangements for segregation were build and each household - or groups of households - came up with their own solution for segregation.
The collection of the waste was started. The weighing of the waste was carried out for some time to learn about the different types of waste and to follow up the amounts.
The Eco Brigade intentionally engaged the children to a large extent.
The initial collection and weighing were carried out in four so called "cells" in barangay Pinagkaisahan and the neighboring barangay Kamuning; two cells in each barangay.
The amount of solid waste per capita collected in the four areas varied very little and was well in accordance with other studies around 0.5 kg/capita and day with one exception; the so called "Lane" in Kamuning. In the Lane the collected amount was around 0.3 kg/capita and day. There is no explanation for this difference in neither the social structure nor any other information or data. This area borders the Diliman Creek as well as Cell 4 in Pinagkaisahan boarders the same creek on the other side.
However, interviews and some observations indicate that some of the inhabitants in Lane in Kamuning still use the creek as a recipient for the Solid Waste as well as wastewater from the houses and toilets.
Another finding of special interest is that the collection crew was not able to sort out more than 2--3% (by weight) of the waste for recycling!
Various information materials were produced. It is important that the information in the material is recognized by the residents so they feel it is "their" information.
The pictures below show a brochure handed out to the residents in the pilot area in connection with the initial project activities.
An Eco Center is the physical heart of a successful and sustainable Solid Waste Management System.
The Eco Center was developed from an area initially intended for other purposes. Several options were discussed. Formal aspects; budgets; practical arrangements; location; etc were parameters included in the discussions. It should be particularly noted that many people in the barangay initially aired the same opinion as most other barangays: "There is no space for this." However, with a dedicated will and an innovative approach this problem was possible to overcome. The barangay captain, Mrs Vivian Quitiquit, exercised her "mantra":
"If there is a will - there is a way..."
A covered area, in connection to the old barangay hall, facing EDSA, was found possible to convert to an Ecological Center (see map above). The area was prepared with
The Eco Center included all facilities needed for a Material Recovery Facility (MRF), but naturally on a limited scale. The practical design and manufacturing of the equipment was made locally to ensure that is was easy to replicate and/or buy within a reasonable budget.
Of course - it is important to invite the decision-makers to demonstrate a successful project.
Hon. Mayor Sonny Belmonte, Quezon City, was invited to formally inaugurate the Eco Center on March 13, 2004.
The daily practical work with the project went on during 2005 and 2006. As mentioned, the project management deliberately extended the duration of the project in order to be able to report not only the immediate results - and successes, but also challenged the Future by following-up on the various parts of the project. A project that would be sustainable would be a much better Learning Experience and demonstration of Best Practice than just an initialization phase without follow-up; the latter unfortunately being typical for many projects.
The collection of the recyclable waste was extended from the pilot area to the whole barangay in late 2005. This demanded a more efficient collection system than the push cart that had been used before. The barangay decided to convert a utility vehicle to a collection vehicle.
The collection of recyclables developed very quickly and monthly average values of around 18,000 pesos were reached during mid 2006. This amount can support a couple of the eco aids employed and consequently the Solid Waste Management System is - at least partly - self sustainable.
However, the amount of recyclables has tended to decrease. The reasons are unclear but one likely explanation is that the inhabitants are storing - and then selling - recyclables to the pushcart boys to a larger extent now since the Solid Waste Management concept has been clear.
The "What's in it for me...?" syndrome might be the reason...?
The composting process was initially successful but demanded very high labor intensity for filling and rotating the drums, re-arranging the drums (though on wheels); emptying; etc - all to avoid foul smell.
A learning experience during the extended phase of the project was that the oil drums initially used turned out not to be sustainable due to corrosion and mechanical wearing. A new open air, concrete basin arrangement was made which then handled a limited amount of compost.
After a while even this activity had to be closed down due to foul smell.
Also the shredder turned out not to be an optimal
construction. Problems with stones, bones and other hard particles destroying
the knives together with the noise and generally dirty handling of the kitchen
waste made the use of the links in the SWM chain
A general conclusion, which is supported from other places, is that it is probably not possible to accomplish traditional composting under these conditions. An alternative is a more advanced, larger, machine driven compost drum of "Happy Soil" type which is used in many barangays (like barangays Phil-Am Life in Quezon City and Pamplona Dos in Las Pinas). However, the cost for this equipment exceeds the budget for most small scale Eco Centers with limited financial resources.
The local composting process was finally cancelled and replaced by a collection scheme for the kitchen waste from a piggery. This is another example of an innovative way of solving a problem.
The barangay got in contact with a piggery outside Quezon City. The piggery got the necessary accreditation from Quezon City in order to be allowed to collect kitchen waste and now the piggery's collection vehicle roams around the barangay three times a week; regularly in connection with the barangay's own collection vehicle and/or the Quezon City collection vehicle.
The piggery does not pay anything for the kitchen waste; on the other hand the waste does not go to Payatas dumpsite as residual waste, and consequently the barangay can benefit from the incentive scheme for reducing the number of truck loads to Payatas dumpsite.
From above one can draw the conclusion that the project has been successful far above the initial ToR. The real long-term - like 10 to 15 years - success is naturally not possible to ensure but many indicators are positive.
The fundamental procedures and routines are stabilized and the financing of the Solid Waste Management System is secured which should guarantee a successful continuation.
The "mantra" exercised over and over again by the barangay captain, Mrs Vivian Quitiquit, is the most important reason for the success and the key for others to succeed:
"If there is a will - there is a way..."
Is every inhabitant in barangay Pinagkaisahan then satisfied with the Solid Waste Management System and happily cooperating? The answer is - of course: No!
Like in most societies, political views and battles tend to overshadow even activities that obviously - and objectively viewed - should be standing above politics since they are only and simply for the public good. The strict "No Segregation - No Collection" no nonsense scheme implemented in barangay Pinagkaisahan in April 2006 caused minor "uproars". Even some members of the council found the scheme "intrusive" and the Eco Aids received many rude and nasty comments when leaving the un-segregated waste behind. A noteworthy fact is that it is not seldom that the most educated and richest inhabitants are the most resistant to cooperate...
The positive side is that a large majority of the residents is very cooperative and the "resistance" from others has been diminishing with time; especially when people see the positive effects on the general cleanliness in the barangay such as much less waste pulled around by stray cats and dogs; less clogging of the drainage; a greener environment; the good reputation for the barangay; etc.
The barangay captain has been very persistent and not giving in to various types of pressure, but there is a very serious comment to be quoted from her:
"Lucky this is my last term as barangay captain, otherwise I don't know if I would have dared to push the Solid Waste Management System so hard. I might not have been re-elected..."
This comment, based on harsh reality, is partly - confusingly - contradictory to what has been said above was in practice one of the main reasons why some of the other core barangays did not succeed very well with the implementation of their Solid Waste Management System.
With a strong political will and support from higher levels the Solid Waste Management System should be able to sustain and be considered as Public Good above politics and various vested interests.
The number of dump trucks from Quezon City has been reduced from eight (8) per week down to two (2) - a reduction by six (6). The barangay now looks into the possibility to even reduce it down to one (1) truck per week. This 75% - or more - reduction of the amount of (residual) waste going to landfill is a remarkable achievement!
This is the main Best Practice and Learning Experience of the project!
As emphasized many time, Sustainable Results and Learning Experiences based on Best Practice are by far the most important goals of any project established and accomplished in developing countries. This project has been extended beyond the initial time schedule in order to be able to report if the project has been successful with sustainable results - and if so, what are the main reasons for it from which other could learn.
The main threat to the continuation of the project is that the political and/or economic conditions supporting the activities are fundamentally altered.
Since the SWM System is successfully working today it means that if the activities will not be sustainable during a long term period, say, beyond five (5) years it is more or less clear that the reason for the failure is the management!
On the ground level, there are - and will be - practical problems to be solved like staff change; service and maintenance of equipment; cash flow from city to barangay; individual objections; etc but they should all be possible to overcome if the "If there is a will - there is a way..." mentality is applied.
Please find some recommendations for similar projects here.
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The interest in this project is very high and the number of
visitors to this web page is increasing. If you use Google and search for a
specific word like "payatas" or the more generic word "dumpsite", this web page
gets top ranking among several hundred thousand hits. This is naturally very
encouraging and shows that hard and dedicated work pays off.
19 December 2007