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The practice of informal waste recovery and solid waste management in Kathmandu, Nepal Yoshida, Yukiko


The issue of Solid Waste Management (SWM) has become a major urban problem in developing countries. SWM is a basic service function which requires sizable injections of national and international assistance. Nevertheless, the results of investments are often far from satisfactory: large amounts of garbage remain uncollected, resulting in serious environmental pollution. In most developing countries, two SWM systems exist side-by-side. One is a "formal system", which is managed by public institutions or registered corporations. It is associated with registered ownership, organized labour, capital investment and modern technology. The main activities of the formal sector are typically based on collection, transportation and disposal of waste. The other, "informal system", is based on waste recovery activities operating outside the official, legal, and institutional framework. It is associated with unregistered ownership, small scale operation, low capital and labour intensive inputs, and local technology. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the linkages between formal SWM and informal waste recovery practises in Kathmandu, Nepal. Methods of investigation included interviews of actors involved in both formal and informal SWM systems and site observation. Through this investigation, the pathways of solid waste recovery of Kathmandu were identified. It was found that a highly organized informal sector recovers significant amounts of waste from the municipal solid waste stream. Different actors in the informal sector play different roles in a rigid hierarchical social system. Informal waste recovery as a whole not only provides a source of income to one of the poorest segments of the population, but it also lessens the need for a costly, sophisticated SWM system. Based on the findings of the study, the thesis concludes that informal waste recovery activities hold potential that is presently inhibited and handicapped in many ways. One of the major causes of such limitations is the lack of a source separation mechanism in the current SWM system. It is recommended that Kathmandu's waste management handling agencies recognize the importance of informal recovery practices and encourage source separation to enhance the quality of the city's overall solid waste management system.

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