During Clean Dhaka Week 2010
'CLEAN Dhaka Week 2010', a week-long environmental campaign was jointly organized by Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) and Japanese Corporation International Agency (JICA) from 10-16 January, where everyone could participate. The objective of this programme was to promote community-based and action oriented campaigns and programmes related to solid waste management, to increase public awareness and to clean Dhaka City. The ward with the highest number of participants during the week will be awarded the Best Ward Effort Award in the Awarding Ceremony. Japan Overseas Corporation Volunteers (JOCV) and Earth Club of North South University organized a clean up campaign and study tour on the 11 -12 of January where Green Voice, a youth network of BAPA also participated. Members of JICA Expert Team and DCC representatives were also present during these events.
On the early hours of 11 January, participants from Earth Club, JOCV and Green Voice gathered at Rabindra Sharabar Bindu, Dhanmondi Lake for the clean up campaign. The participants were provided with safety gears which included attractive vests, tongs, gloves, and two separate bags for recyclable, non- recyclable wastes, and a separate clear plastic bag for collecting cigarette butts. It was observed that the local cleaners as well as the Dhanmondi residents dumped all the wastes in the lake and drainage system. The clean up campaign generated mixed responses. Some pedestrians found the programme rather amusing, while others were supportive.
The next day, 12 January, JOCV volunteers, Earth Club and Green Voice all gathered again at the Waste Management Department of DCC at Nagar Bhaban. A seminar was arranged by the JOCV volunteers to share feedbacks from the previous day. Akio Ishii, a member of JICA Expert Team, talked about the history of Japanese waste management. During the seminar, activities of JOCV were also discussed. In the seminar, it was discussed that a network of students from different universities are needed to create awareness in the future. Participants also learned about the present situation of waste disposals in Dhaka City from the DCC officials and found out that Dhaka city is way behind the Japanese waste management system and needs much attention. The seminar ended with presentation on Earth Club activities and a documentary on Hospital Waste Management prepared by its members.
At the end of the seminar, the group moved to the final waste deposit site in Matuail to learn more about JICA's project and observe the location of one of the two landfill sites in Dhaka City. The tour was necessary as it gave the participants a clear vision about exactly where the everyday wastes ultimately end up. Matuail Sanitary Landfill is about 100 acres in size where only 50 acres is currently being used. The rest of the 50 acres will be used for dumping wastes once the current area has reached a height of 60 feet, which is 35 feet at present. At the entrance of the landfill all vehicles carrying waste are weighed and recorded by an automated system. Scavengers were working without safety gears and were roaming around the site to search and pick up the recyclable in the dumping areas.
As an Earth Club member, I came to learn that the citizens of our city lack proper knowledge regarding appropriate waste disposals using suitable collection mechanism and the segregation of domestic wastes. Constant littering is extremely detrimental for public health and stands as an obstacle of proper urbanization. Needless to say, it is highly hazardous to the environment. It may be a challenge to create awareness concerning this issue by ourselves. Through transfer and exchange of knowledge through this kind of activities with Japanese volunteers and experts, we hope to improve the situation in Dhaka City and change our habits of littering. With the aim of changing the mind sets of the youth, we will ensure a clean and safe Dhaka City for the people in general for ages to come.
(BBA Student, Junior Member, Earth Club, North South University)