BIGD launches SoC 2015: Solid Waste Management in Dhaka City – Towards Decentralised Governance

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December 1, 2015: BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University has launched its annual flagship research report State of Cities (SoC) 2015 titled ‘Solid Waste Management in Dhaka City--Towards Decentralised Governance’, on Sunday, the 29th of November 2015, at the Spectra Convention Centre, Dhaka. The ceremony also served as a platform for participants to discuss the current scenario of solid waste management in Dhaka city, as a Question & Answer session was followed by the presentation of key findings and discussion on the report.

The study has captured constraints in addressing the city's solid waste problem. The City Corporations' budget, for instance, is inadequate. There is a coordination failure between private and public agencies. Across wards there are disparities in terms of infrastructural capacity, tax realization, timing of waste collection, payment on door-to-door services, among others. Unless cities do posses modern recycling facilities, it is hard to solve the garbage problem. The existing landfill sites lack sanitary features and might create new problems in a bid to solve old ones.

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Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Dr. ABM Badruzzaman, Mr. S M Gubair Bin Araft
(From left to right)

The report recommends that decentralization is one of the ways to tackle the localized problem of solid waste management, particularly addressing the heterogeneity that exists at the grassroots level. It is suggested to take the advantages of modern technology in beefing up monitoring and enforcement, particularly to address coordination failure among agencies. It is expected that city corporations and other urban authorities will pay heed to the recommendations of BIGD that has a track-record in studying cities.  The study reveals that the city generates about 6100 tonnes waste per day which is significantly higher than earlier projections. This also indicates that Dhaka's pace of urbanization has been much faster than it has been forecast. The per capita waste generation in the city is 377 gram each day. One of the encouraging findings of the report is that over the years waste collection rate has increased. Unlike previous studies, the study has delved into the key micro issues from the ‘governance’ perspective with a particular focus on functioning of the various stages of the solid waste management process.

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The results from the study indicate the need for a reform of the existing systems of SWM in Dhaka City. At the micro level, from the household survey the waste collection and delivery procedures along with perceptions have been narrated in some details.  The KIIs and FGDs (though conducted in a very limited scale) indicate the need to address some of the pertinent problems of various stakeholders. At the macro level, the estimates from the study along with data provided by city corporation reveals the wide variation across wards under both the city corporations. A change in the existing structure and function of governance relating to SWM is upheld as a timely demand.

Among the distinguished guests, Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Executive Chairman, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and former Advisor to the Caretaker Government was the Chief Guest at the event. The event was chaired by Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD while the designated discussant included Dr. ABM Badruzzaman, Professor of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

Distinguished participants on the Q/A Session

In the Q and A session, Dr. Tariq Bin Yousuf, DNCC; Captain Raquib, BN, Chief Waste Management Officer, DSCC; Professor Abu Ahmed, DU; Dr. M. Mushtuq Husain, IEDCR; Ms. Naoko Anzai, Senior Governance Expert (LGED); Quazi Sarwar Imtiaz Hashmi, Additional Director General (Department of Environment); Md. Zamal Uddin, LGED; Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Country Representative, UN Habitat;  Md. Shahjahan Mollah, LGED participated.

In his comment, Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, the Chief Guest of the event said, unfortunately Bangladeshi cities are not clean and the country has a process of dirty development."The issue of SWM is at the heart. It is not a matter of aesthetics but it has a direct consequence for our health cause and overall pollution" said.

"We have addressed one issue which is collection but separation and disposal remain as huge challenges," said the former caretaker government adviser. Relating to the decentralisation of governance, he said it is a very good agenda for local government as in future, ward governance system may be introduced for better outcome in terms of citizen service.

He pointed out that the issue of SWM has to be understood in totality of a process, he said adding: without having the whole process in mind you cannot really think of how to address this challenge in a more effective manner. He also added there are governance, capacity, resource and behavioural issues along with the challenge of innovation, however, the steps towards solution to SWM as well as other challenging issues, should be addressed from low-governance perspective which is the reality of Bangladesh.

In the concluding remarks, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman said rapid growth of population means more and more waste. Active ward commissioners have positive impacts on cleaning the wards. For Bangladesh landfill is going to be a serious problem and there is no clear-cut answer about the location, he added.

‘Among various dimensions of urbanisation, BIGD addressed one of the exceedingly challenging issue this year through this study to bridge the existing gaps in past research and in order to throw some light on existing scenario of SWM in Dhaka city. It intends to continue the focus on such problems one way or another to come out with solutions. BIGD hopes, such step will generate more interest, public debate and discussion among the stakeholders and concerned citizens.’ He concluded.  

Amongst others, Dr. Hasan Mahmud, Bangladesh Red Crescent; Alice Sarker, SEHD; Mehnaz Tasnim, The World bank; Mr. Gonzalo SERRANO, First Secretary, European Union; Koji Mitomori, JICA; Elma Morsheda, ADB; Md. Fokrul Islam, Dhaka WASA; Dr. Syed Abdul Hamid, PPRC; Monju Maria, World Vision; Peter Ravenscroft, Water and Sanitation Specialist; Sandrine Capelle Manuel, UNDP; Rashedul Hasan and Linda Roberts, both from Swiss Contact attended the event.  

SoC 2015: Solid Waste Management in Dhaka City -- Towards Decentralised Governance (Ful report)

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Sources: The financial Express, The Daily Star, The Daily Asian Age, BIGD Newsroom

For more information about the research and report, please contact
Mr. S M Gubair Bin Arafat, Lead Researcher, SoC 2015 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.