Mapping Waste Management

| Hamna Jillani
This is an exploratory research with an aim to investigate people’s understanding of waste in traditional and subsistence economy. Moreover, to comprehend how the ecology of villages is being transformed owing to the shift towards market economy and what practices are being adopted to manage waste, which is new for the system? Interviews were conducted with indigenous people to figure out the current practices. This work is an attempt to propose sustainable solutions for the community.
Gojal is the largest tehsil of Gilgit-Baltistan, most of its villages can be observed through Karakorum Highway. This research was conducted in villages of Gojal Valley (Gulmit and Ghulkin), located at the North of Pakistan. The aesthetic beauty of the area is being spoiled as the access to road and market has created a new ecology there. With the availability of new items, generation of waste in the vicinity is seen as an alarming problem of the future. Waste is defined as anything which is unwanted or un-useful. Any substance or object which has been or is intended to be discarded or disposed is regarded as waste by Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997. We the great humans are responsible for the production of waste and later on are concerned with its management. The word waste is generated from a French word ‘vastum’ which means empty, and it was used for any neglected region in the beginning. Later on, in 15th century the original meaning of the word came into existence. [1]
Waste in past, was not actually waste. Everything was reused and recycled naturally. As the facilities are being improvised waste generation is also being increased. Eventually the responsibility to manage waste has been shifted from household to community level. The individual backyard pits needs to be transformed into properly engineered landfills just to fulfill the goal of efficient disposal for a longer time span. [2]
In Gilgit-Baltistan solid waste management comes under the responsibility of City administration and Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO) but unfortunately in spite of having immense attraction by the tourists the financial and technical resources and feasibilities are lacking. In Hunza, the sub-department known as Hunza Environmental Commission (HEC) which was formulated in 1997 is currently operating. After initial funding support for start-up by AKF-UK/EU and NORAD through AKCSP, the project now sustains its operations through user-fees and other local resources. The department KADO is working for the management of solid waste in areas like Aliabad, Karimabad, Altit, Hyderabad, Dorkhand and Gareth. The areas
of Upper Hunza including Gojal Valley are scanty of any such effort. A recent seminar was conducted on the same topic and people from urban unit and other members joined it. Recycling and Landfill are suggested as sustainable solutions. The abovementioned areas of Central Hunza were also having same means of disposal formerly i.e. open dumping and burning. According to a report of Environmental Protection Agency of Gilgit Baltistan, which was formulated in 2010, the domestic waste generation is 5 metric tons per day whereas commercial generation is 10 metric tons per day in Hunza-Nagar. A sum of Rupees 6 Million was allocated for the management of waste in the district in 2012-13. [3]
The inefficient management of waste leads to aesthetic pollution along with various health impacts. Moreover, water bodies, land spaces and soil biota is damaged. The consumption pattern creates dramatic changes in the composition of waste. The improper management facilities in the rural communities cause the people to burn waste near their homes and this is the case round the globe.
This research was kept open ended and exploratory in which qualitative method was practiced. Interviews were conducted by the indigenous people moreover; past and present practices were noted. Furthermore, future predictions were discussed and narratives of locals were documented.
Current Practices:
Following practices are done by the natives of Gojal Valley to manage waste at residential level.
1. All the peels and waste from vegetable/fruits is collected and is fed to animals in the house or given to neighbors for their livestock, if not available at home.
2. Animal waste is used as organic fertilizer.
3. The clothes are reused to make and for filling of cushions/ pillows.
4. The oil cans and bottles is a new concept, people sometimes use these bottles for filling water.
5. Shells and coverings of seeds (almond, walnuts etc.) are used for heating purpose in the kitchen.
6. Sometimes items like wood, paper, plastic is kept separate and used in winters as source of heat.
7. Plastic bags were not used in the past, but now the trend is increasing in commercial sector but at homes people tend to keep these plastic bags safe and then reuse it.
8. Animal hides were used in the past to make shoes, clothes etc. but now this practice is being faded away and people from down come and collect these and take to cities.
9. The plastic items are cut and being used in the washrooms like ‘water carrier’.
10. Cans and leather is collected by people from Hunza and Gilgit and taken away.
11. Food which is of no use is distributed among neighbors and if it is not edible used for animals.
Management Techniques:
After all the possible practices the leftover is again to be managed.
1. Extra clothes, shoes and any other item are burnt. Burning is done on own land.
2. Waste crockery is usually buried.
3. WWF provides sessions of awareness with respect to management of waste and provisions of dustbins in schools and grounds.
4. The waste which is collected in dustbins is again burnt; there is no concept of segregation for recyclable items.

Key Findings:
The trends of waste generation are changing promptly. In the community of Gojal, the term waste was very minor just like it management. The old lifestyle has no room for waste, as one of the interviewees said: ‘Hum kahin bhi kachra nahi phenkty thy, ghar ki gandagi mitti main mil jati thi’ We don’t tend to opt for open dumping, the dirt from house used to get mixed with the dirt outside house. Owing to the shift in lifestyles the indigenous people are witnessing aesthetic pollution caused by dumping of waste and in order to manage it for the time being they used methods like open dumping and burning, they are concerned about their environment as Marina Amir (housewife) said: ‘Hum nahi chahty mahool kharab ho’ We don’t want the environment to get damaged. Moreover people blame the tourist community and this label is very significant that because of excess population and resource utilization the level of waste generation has increased. One of the intervieews, Raheem Ahmad (student) said: ‘Tourist aty hain or idhr udhr kachra phelaty hain’ Tourist visit here and are responsible for garbage littering.
Not only this, the market accessibility is another major reason for was production. Qayym Khan (shopkeeper) said: ‘Dukanon ki waja sy kachra zada hogya hai’ Waste has increased because of shops. As per discussions with the locals, it has been concluded that the roads are now connecting this desolate area with the rest of places and waste production is a major con of this process. At residential level the amount of waste produced is still less. People are using efficient and sustainable practices at their own end. Rehman Ullah (job person) said: ‘Jis plastic shoper main parcel ata hai, usi main pack kr k wapis bhej dete hain’. The plastic bag in which any parcel comes, the same is reused and sent back. Owing to their concern towards waste and dumping they tend to manage it in the easiest way, they can. Amin Ullah (shopkeeper) said: ‘Bori main dal k jala dete hain, es trha kahin phenkna nhi prta’ Waste is collected in a sack and burnt, by this the waste doesn’t have to be thrown and visual pollution is less. As the Government is not involved, therefore people have to take it as their own responsibility and what all they can do is ‘Kachra uthao or jalao’ Pick up waste and burn. Government doesn’t take interest in cleanliness of the area. Fortunately, people are aware and concerned about waste but unfortunately they are not aware about the sustainable practices which could be used. Following people are involved in the management of waste within the community:
1. Volunteers and Scouts are present there to manage solid waste and for maintaining the cleanliness in the village
2. Environment day is observed on every 5th June, and volunteers do waste collection of village on that day
3. Cleanliness day is celebrated by honoree workers
Most obviously the area will be developed even more in the upcoming time and more waste production is expected. The use of alternative practices except burning and burying should be introduced in the vicinity. These new approaches are more feasible to do and also serve as long term management plan. Neither there is need to burn the waste or bury it inside land, without precautions. The Government should actively engage in the management of waste and develop a department there, this is the first priority. Apart from this, people should be involved in sustainable practices at ground level. Certain practices are mentioned ahead:
1. Composting facilities can be initiated because there is no concept of it. As, people are given the training of ‘Bokashi’ organic fertilizers by JICA, one step could be incorporation of compost making process. The compost can be used in farming, resulting in less burning of organic waste.
2. Properly designed landfill could be one of the solutions. In mountainous areas, the appropriate landfill site and design is a tough job, but once if made it can be a sustainable option for years. Because of no industrial, and majorly residential and commercial waste the landfill may last for a longer period. This step could be implemented by the joint efforts of Government and private parties.
3. Waste segregations and recycling trainings can work out in this regard and separated recyclable material can be collected and reused later on, to generate revenue in the area. A small recycling unit can be placed, or the collected items can be transported to other cities.
By reviewing all the practices and management techniques, Government Department can work on the selective options for waste disposal in Gojal. Because of less pollution and emissions, to get control over the current situation is easy. Meanwhile, tourism needs be continued in a sustainable manner. All the authorities and the community need to collaborate and work together for efficient management of waste disposal system in the vicinity.
1- S. Barles, (2011). History of Waste Management and the Social and Cultural Representations of Waste, Environ Health Insights, 5: 9–20.
2- Rebecca Zagozewski, Ian Judd-Henrey, Suzie Nilson, Lalita Bharadwaj, Perspectives on Past and Present Waste Disposal Practices: A Community-Based Participatory Research Project in Three Saskatchewan First Nations Communities.