Kids’ Paintings Turns DSWM Unit Into A Pride Zone.
hen DCM Shriram Foundation & FINISH Society joined hands to start the Khushali Swachhata Project intervention in Ward-5 of Hardoi city in October 2022, (comprising 4200 residents and 763 families) there were many challenges to contend with. The sanitation practices among the residents were very poor, since they threw their household waste on the road or in the drains, Being the oldest ward of the city, the roads and streets are very narrow and because of this there was no possibility of the garbage van to collect waste. As a result of this, the population living in this ward dumped their daily waste on a common ground. The end result was that there was a huge collection of waste, and because of the rotting garbage, bad odour had spread across ward-5, and the flies buzzing around were spreading diseases. Sub Inspector of Police, Ramesh Singh and cloth merchant Pankaj Agrawal (both residents of the ward) said “it is impossible to change the situation of the ward as well as the mindset of the people.”
“Serious challenges began cropping up once the DSWM unit started functioning. It is important to note that proper and odourless composting of waste requires a dry atmosphere, but by the time the unit began to function, there was heavy rainfall in the district so the collected waste and the area got much moisture than required. And after a few days, the waste started to stink and when it spread across the complex, the main stakeholders that comprised shopkeepers and political party functionaries accosted Mr Vivek seeking his explanation but the latter had no ready answers.”
Residents of Ward-5 tried to ensure that there was a regular drive carried out by the government but this would be inevitably stopped after a few days. After studying the situation, the FINISH Society took up the challenge to change the mindset of people and took it upon themselves and the community to clean the area and change the face of the ward.
FINISH Society started multiple behaviour change activities in the ward like holding a drawing competition among children, holding a Mehndi competition, and taking out rallies they also formed a Mohalla cleaning committee where volunteers were given rights and responsibilities.
For managing the collected waste, with the help of the DCM Shriram Foundation, FINISH Society made a Decentralised Solid Waste Management (DSWM) Unit at a spot where already a huge amount of waste was being dumped and hence managing it was a major problem. In these circumstances, every FINISH team member provided a plethora of pertinent suggestions. For managing the waste the team collected, they dug up deep trenches and built an RCC shelter.
They barricaded the ground and installed an entry gate. For beautifying the entire area and entry gate, the FINISH team used drawings made by children during the drawing competition activity. And seeing a drawing of their children now every household in the ward takes care of the unit by itself. Once this location was an issue of shame for them but now this beautiful spot is an area of pride for the people of Ward 5. It has changed the mindset of all the families and living in hygienic surroundings has become a habit.
One can gauge the commitment of the residents from a recent incident when one day an allegedly drunk person came to the unit and tried to break down the gate of the DSWM unit. All families living nearby got together and stopped him as he was trying to break their assets. They called the police and handed him over.
After the inauguration of the unit in January 2023 with the help of the Municipal Office, Ward-5 got its own waste collection team with 3 tricycles and now segregated waste collected from the entire Ward-5 is today managed in this DSWM Unit. Roughly, 250 KG of waste is managed daily and till now 450 KG of compost has been made ready for use.
Today, Pankaj the cloth merchant sings a different tune: He says: “It is a miracle that an institution like FINISH Society managed to change the behaviour and mindset of the people who were known to be careless and wallowed in unhygienic surroundings. It was known for the spread of infectious diseases, but from now it will be known for its cleanness and clean mindset.”