An initiative to encourage local participation in conservation and waste management of national parks
National parks in Nepal are home to many endangered species of flora and fauna. This diverse natural environment is a point of attraction to humans for educational as well as recreational purposes. The annual inflow of visitors- both local and international- to national parks has been a great source of revenue for local communities as well as park authorities. However, economic perks have also put pressures on the environment in the form of degrading wildlife habitat and risks to their survival. Especially the mounting problem of waste management in national parks has led to pollution in various forms which has eventually impacted the wildlife.
Empowering Youth Towards Zero Waste National Park is an initiative supported by WWF Nepal to drive change in national parks for proper waste management through efforts and activities of the local youth. The project envisions a zero-waste national park through proper collaborations with the local stakeholders and awareness to the park visitors.
Empowering Youth Towards Zero Waste National Park was officially launched in March 2021 in support of WWF Nepal. The project has been piloted in Chitwan National Park as of now.
The project’s major objective is protecting the biodiversity of the national park from unwanted human activities mainly haphazard disposal of waste. All of our interventions have been designed by putting this into consideration. Waste Smart Museum, Waste Smart Eco Club, Zero Waste Training and Clean Up Campaigns are our major activities that cater to fulfilling our objective.
Protecting the natural state of the park which is also the habitat of the wildlife is our main objective. The project plans to do this through proper waste management- by establishing means to strengthen the mechanism and involving local stakeholders and communities in the process. Hence, local communities, the wildlife as well as local children and youth are our major beneficiaries.
This project is an initiation of CREASION in support of WWF Nepal. However, there are many collaborative partners who are involved in the implementation of this project. As a primary beneficiary, local youth and children are expected to internalize their learnings as well as encourage their communities towards proper waste management. Similarly, our partnership with the park authorities is also expected to help us constantly monitor the project’s progress and give it continuity, hence ensuring its sustainability.
A techno-centric and modern approach towards waste management in national parks
Waste management is already a pressing issue for Nepal. Ignorance and lack of awareness pose great challenges to an already failing sector. Especially for places with heavy inflow of visitors like the national park, waste management is a challenge. Haphazard disposal of waste such as plastics bottles and wrappers have posed risks for the survival of wildlife.
Waste Smart Museum is an attraction strategically designed to capture the attention of visitors of the national park. The museum is a multi-dimensional structure that consists of two bottle crushers, three dustbins and visual infographics. All of these elements combined, it aims to raise awareness among the visitors and encourage them towards proper waste management.
The dustbins are segregated according to three colors and the type of waste. The green dustbin is separated for biodegradable waste, the blue one for plastics and the yellow for papers. Through easy access of these dustbins, visitors are encouraged to dispose their waste accordingly. The bottle crushers are placed to easily thin out waste PET bottles thrown away in dustbins so that the collection is easier for waste pickers.
Similarly, infographics related to biodiversity conservation and waste segregation are also placed in LED screens to raise awareness about conservation of biodiversity habitat.
A platform for young students to become better allys of the environment
Eco Supervisors Appointed
Waste Smart Eco Club Members Inducted
With formal education, children should also receive opportunities for exposure through informal and collaborative means. This can include being part of clubs and groups that help them explore beyond textbook knowledge and gain hands-on experience and awareness about relevant issues relating to the environment or our society. However, educational institutions in Nepal are devoid of such opportunities for young students which disables them from being active citizens and contributing to the community.
Waste Smart Eco Club is a forum for students to influence, engage their peers, parents and communities to promote environment activities and projects. More specifically, it is an effort to aware children about best waste management practices and engage them as agents of change to improve the waste management scenario of their communities for the conservation of biodiversity.
One Waste Smart Eco Club is formed in each community school. The clubs comprise of Executive Members and general members who design and implement various eco-friendly activities. Each executive members are assigned certain roles and responsibilities, the fulfilment of which ensure the smooth functioning of the club. The club’s activities and the members are supervised by an Eco-Supervisor belonging to the respective school itself.
To officially induct the members into the club, a formal inauguration event is also done at the beginning and features the handover of responsibilities, seed fund of Rs. 10000, Waste Smart Kit containing gavel, notebooks, thermometer, sanitizer, register for each club. The club members are then expected to meet every month, discuss on pertaining environment issues of their homes, schools and community and devise relevant programs and events.
Helping individuals and organizations realize the value of waste
Waste is an undervalued resource in our communities due to lack of awareness as well as a good mechanism for its management. As human activities are constantly on a rise, waste keeps piling up with no space for proper disposal and management. Individuals, households, institutions and communities have still not realized that waste that ends up in the landfill can be cut off through proper management. If this gap is not filled, the problem of waste will keep on exacerbating, with no solution at sight.
Zero Waste Training is a hands-on approach of bringing awareness to individuals, households, institutions and communities on how they can reduce waste. The training aims to help them know their waste better, find where they can cut corners and be more mindful of their resource consumptions and waste production.
The training first helps participants identify the waste produced in their households, institutions or communities. A thorough session on the types of waste, their recyclability status and impacts on the environment is briefed to the participants. This is followed by a training on steps and strategies that can be used to reduce their waste through reduce, reuse and recycling principles.
An initiative to encourage community participation for conservation
Community Members Involved
Youth Groups Formed
When it comes to instilling a good waste management system, the role of community in it is integral. Lack of awareness, proper monitoring, ignorance on the part of people has however become a deterrent for it. This has worsened the problem of waste in open communities leading to open dumping, careless disposal of waste and an overall impact on the environment.
Clean Up campaigns are aimed as a means of promoting collective action for the environment. The campaign gathers local youth, local students as well as community members occasionally for clean-ups of their areas as well as areas near and around the national park. This occasional campaign is also an effort to ensure the peripheries of the national park are devoid of any harmful waste and plastics so that they don’t impact the biodiversity living in it.
The responsibility of organizing Clean Up campaigns primarily rests upon the members of the Waste Smart Eco Clubs and the members of Volunteer for Change Youth Groups. The clean-up campaigns are organized at least once in a month- either in a large scale around national parks or in a small scale around their own local communities. The collected waste are then managed according to their recyclability type.