THARAHUNISE PROJECT

Swachha Graha, Hasiru Grama.

The Tharahunise Project was started in May 2016 to address issues related to soil, water, and waste management in the village of Tharahunise, located approximately 30 km north of Bangalore. The village derives its income from employment at the Embassy Group’s institutions in the area as well as through the cultivation of food and cash crops, ragi and eucalyptus in particular. Due to the rapid expansion of the Bangalore metropolitan area and inefficient management of resource systems, the village runs the risk of depleting its natural soil and water quality, and becoming an urban dumping ground much like many areas within the city. Further, the people of the village lack awareness of the importance of sanitation and cleanliness and their adverse impact on health, agriculture, and commerce. TAICT has identified potential risks and adopted soil, water and waste management as the focus areas of the Project.

The Tharahunise Project has three main objectives:

  1. End to end waste management that is ethical and sustainable

This refers to 100% collection of segregated waste, which is then further sorted, stored and suitably processed such that only a minute quantity of reject waste reaches a landfill. The Tharahunise Project service providers have been able to collect segregated waste from approximately 350 households out on a regular basis.

  1. Visual cleanliness in and around Tharahunise

This objective refers to achieving a sense of hygiene and tidiness in and around public spaces in the Tharahunise village area. Before the Tharahunise Project, its drains were filled with garbage, there was open dumping in gutters, large cement public bins where waste was burnt on a regular basis, and large ‘black spots’ or informal dumping sites all around the village. During the course of the Tharahunise Project, we have cleaned up black spots — including with the involvement of Panchayat members and farmer cooperatives, and have formally requested the Panchayat to raise a notification banning littering and mandating conscientious waste management for all public events in the village. We have also systematically attempted to clear historical waste from the sides of the roads and installed 10 litter bins around the village to prevent further littering. All these activities have been accompanied by awareness strategies in groups as well as one-on-one where we have tried to explain to residents about the harmful effects of dumping, littering and burning waste — especially in public areas.

  1. Soil rejuvenation and adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques

Originally, the Tharahunise Project attempted to address the poor quality of soil, and therefore low yield and income, on land in the area by awakening people to the harmful effects of waste, pesticides and intensive methods of agriculture by re-introducing traditional knowledge that suits a modern context. We wanted to engage farmers to convert their Eucalyptus plantations into plantations of indigenous species that would benefit the soil rather than deplete it as Eucalyptus is known to do. We also wanted to conduct workshops with farmers to teach them alternative cultivation practices that would reduce their dependency on irrigation and chemical fertilisers.

During the course of the project, however, we found that this objective could only be tackled once the issues of waste and pollution were addressed. To this end, we conducted extensive research on Eucalyptus plantation conversion and found resources who could disseminate the information in an accessible manner to farmers, but decided to put this objective on hold in favour of perfecting the first two objectives.

IMPACT

The Tharahunise Project has successfully diverted waste from its target area away from landfills such that dry waste has been recycled, wet waste composted or sustainably managed, and bio-hazardous waste safely disposed of.

It has also greatly enhanced the means of livelihood for four informal waste pickers who now have steady source of income, permanent housing, and official government identification.

At the beginning of the project, between July 2016 and October 2016, waste collected was not regularly recorded, however waste management services were in full swing post the Kick Off event.

Based on our current estimates, approximately 80kgs of waste is collected from the village every day.

This gives us an estimate of 7200kgs of waste collected from July to October 2016 and diverted from a landfill.

The Tharahunise Project was intended to be a pilot to better understand the dynamics and functioning of a semi-rural area where no waste management systems previously existed. During the course of 8 months, the project has

  • Set up a regular waste collection system,
  • Enforced segregation at source from 350 households,
  • Significantly cleaned up the streets and informal dump sites
  • Changed attitudes towards waste and health
  • Elicited cooperation and participation from local government bodies and inspired them to take action in the field of solid waste management under the technical guidance of TAICT and its partners.

Investment for this project was deliberately kept low so as to maximise learnings with minimal fallout. Feedback collected from the residents of this area during the baseline survey, which was conducted halfway through the project activities, indicates that people are aware of the program and happy to participate in it. They are beginning to understand that waste needs to be addressed in order to secure a healthy future for their own families. However, intensive intervention through awareness events and outreach is still necessary to change lifelong habits and mentalities. We received commendation from the members of Panchayat who invited us to expand the project into the other villages in the Panchayat and have vocally extended their support to us. We also recognised that this area is likely to experience rapid growth and development as more and more large scale residential and business complexes spring up near by.

To address the challenges faced during the pilot, expand services to all villages in Bettahalasur Panchayat, and plan for the future of the area, we conceived of the EcoGram Project — a community oriented waste management solution for Bettahalasur Panchayat and it's surrounding areas.

This project is sponsored by EMBASSY and supported by SWMRT and HASIRU DALA