Litter-free Neighborhood Program | Kathmandu

Solid waste management is a major challenge of urbanisation in Nepal. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is one such city in Nepal where the inefficiency of the waste management system is visible, and the impact of this failed system on the environment and public health is increasingly being questioned. Although municipalities are wholly responsible for the collection, transport, treatment, and final disposal of solid waste, very few have a holistic understanding of the waste problem in their jurisdiction. A number of research studies have been undertaken for the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) focused on understanding the waste stream characteristics, and technical and policy analyses. These studies identified that solid waste collection rates are far below the 90% claimed by KMC and street sweeping consumes approximately 51% of the solid waste management budget. Kathmandu also faces severe constraints surrounding the usage, capacity and environmental safety of landfill sites, and there are serious environmental and public health problems in the unsustainable current practice of the illegal dumping of solid waste on the river banks.

There are opportunities to address these issues, however. A significant component of household waste and waste from restaurants, hotels, schools and streets is organic, and there is willingness by a majority of surveyed households in Kathmandu to segregate waste. Throughout Nepal, solid waste is generally not segregated into organic waste, recyclables and landfill waste at the household level. A recent ADB report titled ‘Solid Waste Management in Nepal: Current Status and Policy Recommendations’ notes the composition of household waste management in the 58 municipalities as follows: 66% Organic Waste, 12% Plastics, 9%Paper and Paper Products, 3% Glass, 2% Metals, 2% Textiles, 1% Rubber and Leather and 5% Others. Also out of the 58 municipalities, only 6 have landfill sites highlighting the gains to be made if up to 85% of recyclables and organic matter is diverted from landfill sites. The potential for recovery of organic waste via composting and opportunities for recycling through formal channels is also now well-established.

Kathmandu, like many rapidly developing urban areas around the world, has a complex structure of different stakeholders and spatial distribution of waste generation. Lack of practice of composting and recycling, and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s skeletal, inefficient waste management system has resulted in an increase in private sector players and NGOs, most of whose legal status is ambiguous. The private sector and NGOs currently collect waste only and very little processing of waste occurs. Although a lack of finance and management capacity is also responsible for the ineffectiveness and inefficiency in this sector, a lack of coordination between stakeholders involved in waste management has further compounded the problem. To achieve an efficient, effective and environmentally friendly waste management system for Kathmandu, an integrated organizational development approach is required that consists of strategy/vision and leadership, system, structure, style of management, and trained staffs.

A litter-free neighbourhood is one where residents are aware of the concept of sustainable living—a vision of a community that produces minimal waste through appropriate and smart choices, through household waste segregation and composting of organic waste, and recycling of plastic, papers and other materials such as glass and leather. A litter-free neighborhood is also one where residents clean in and around their homes and public spaces on a frequent basis. Awareness of concepts below is also high:

A. HOUSEHOLD WASTE: What is it? There is no such thing as waste
B. PLASTICS: Impact of plastics on the environment
C. ORGANIC WASTE: How to keep organic waste out of landfill sites
D. CIVIC SENSE: How one can contribute to keeping one’s environment clean?
E. SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Choice is in the hands of the consumer, 3Rs, etc.

Clean up Nepal has select three peri-urban settlements in Kathmandu– Machhegaon, Thaiba and Thankot to trial the litter-free neighborhood concept.


Clean up Nepal Global Coordinator, Dr Neelam Pradhananga discussing waste management issues with the community at Machhegaon.

The aims of the litter-free neighborhood program are as follows:
1. Explore residents’ perceptions of waste and the challenges they face in disposing their waste;
2. Recognise current stakeholders in waste management in these neighbourhoods;
3. Analyse specific challenges faced in the collection and transportation of solid waste;
4. Explore ways to spatially represent the existing waste management system/s in these neighborhoods;
5. Recruit and provide training/support to individuals from these neighborhoods to promote the concepts of the litter-free neighborhood program;
6. Assess change in perceptions of the community over the six-month period on waste management; and
7. Develop a waste management system for the community that is environmentally sound, and financially and logistically viable.

These aims are in line with Clean up Nepal’s objectives to 1) Improve awareness of solid waste management issues amongst local residents, school children, youth and tertiary students; 2) Raise the local profile of environmental issues in Nepal’s development narrative; 3) Initiate contextually suited technological solutions for waste minimization; and 4) Bring about behavioral change in Nepal.

Clean up Nepal commenced its litter-free neighborhood program in Kathmandu on 09 March 2014 in the Kupondole area. A series of meetings is held with the community to discuss key concerns in relation to solid waste management in the area.

Trial litter-free neighborhoods have been run to-date at:
1. Kupondole
2. Chuchhepati
3. Mahankal
4. Chapphro – Pepsi Cola
5. Boudhanath
6. Kathmandu Durbar Square

Litterfree Neighbourhood Programs

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