Teknaf, Ukhia show the way

April 17, 2022

The Story was first published in The Daily Star Click here to read the original publication.

For shopkeepers in Cox's Bazar's Ukhia, the day starts with rigorous cleaning. As part of the process, they put a pair of buckets -- one green and the other blue -- in front of their shops.

Later on the day, some three to four people in vests come to sweep the road, who collect the buckets and pour their content in separate chambers in a van.

One of them told this correspondent their job entails collecting waste from the shops and separating organic waste kept in green buckets from the rest kept in blue buckets.

After the collection and separation, garbage is taken to a facility -- where perishable waste is turned into compost, while the rest gets recycled or dumped into a sanitary landfill.

This solid waste management project comes as a beacon of hope at a time when Cox's Bazar, the country's largest tourist spot, is struggling with its waste management.

The project is implemented by UNDP with local partners Brac and Practical Action. It began in 2018 with finance from the Swedish government. It is being implemented with coordination from the UP chairperson, market committees, WATSAN committees and NGOs.

"The project has introduced basic waste collection systems in market areas and helped prevent littering in open spaces and drains," said Marta Kucharski Duran, project manager from UNDP's end in Cox's Bazar.

"The project aims to change people's perception towards waste. Waste is a resource that can generate incomes and job opportunities, and this is the idea we want to work on," she said.

Currently, waste is being collected from 5,390 shops of 14 marketplaces and 5,093 households in Ukhia and Teknaf under the project.

After segregating organic and recyclable waste, around 30 percent of the residual waste is disposed of at a landfill, maintaining hygiene concerns.

Around 41 scrap dealers and more than 404 firewalls are also supported by the project to increase the recyclable material supplied to industries in Dhaka and Chattogram.

To this end, the country's first two scrap dealers' associations were created in Ukhia and Teknaf.

In the district's refugee camps, the project has constructed a sanitary landfill for about 750,000 people, which is designed to only dispose of waste that cannot be recovered (30 percent of the total).

"With significant space constraints in these camps, this facility offers an alternative to harmful waste management practices," said Marta.