New Delhi: The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a $105 million project to support Kerala in strengthening its solid waste management systems and services. The project will directly benefit over 7.5 million people in all 93 ULBs across all 14 districts in Kerala.
The Kerala Solid Waste Management Project (KSWMP) will establish an integrated solid waste management system that includes a balanced mix of decentralized and centralized waste management interventions. It will support multiple activities at local and regional levels including expansion of waste collection services, development of waste recycling and management facilities, remediation and closure of existing dumpsites, development of scientific landfills, and sanitization of government offices, hospitals, community level waste recycling and processing facilities. The project will pay special attention to financial, operational and environmental sustainability of the solid waste management systems to be developed in the state. These project activities will also contribute to improved flood resilience, since large parts of Kerala are prone to flooding.
The solid waste management capacity in Kerala is currently constrained by limited primary collection and transportation systems, low capacity of community-level bio-waste treatment facilities, and lack of centralized processing and disposal facilities. According to a survey carried out by the Kerala government in 2018, over 70 percent of the water sources in Kerala are contaminated, with over half of the pollution originating from solid waste in households, markets and hotels.
Recognizing the urgency for improving solid waste management services, the Government of Kerala has taken several measures, such as a state-wide cleanliness mission (Harith Kerala Mission), which includes solid waste management as one of its core priorities; promoting a decentralized approach by asking local governments to improve source segregation, providing subsidies to households for managing bio-degradable waste through composting or bio-digestion; and engaging women self-help groups for primary collection of plastic waste.
At the local level, the new project will support these initiatives by laying out mechanisms for ULBs to formally engage with Kudumbashree groups (state women livelihood mission) as service providers of solid-waste management, including collection and transportation. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the project will support ULB systems to undertake COVID-19 waste management, cleanliness/sanitization activities, and strengthen the systems for ensuring the health and safety of the sanitation workers including women.
“For a rapidly urbanizing state like Kerala, solid waste management is critical to building sustainable, healthy, and inclusive cities and communities,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “This project will support the enabling policy and institutional framework being created by the Government of Kerala for improved service delivery systems and capacities at both city and state levels,” he added.
Today plastic waste is choking up oceans. Kerala generates close to 330 tons of plastic waste every day, which is approximately 9 percent of the total municipal solid waste. Currently, only a small portion of the plastic waste (3 percent) is collected and recycled. The remaining plastic leaks into the environment and is a significant contributor to the marine pollution in Kerala – a state that has a 570 km coastline and an extensive network of waterbodies. It is estimated that close to 1.7 billion plastic pieces, with weight of around 1,000 tones, are littered along its coasts.
This project will promote environmentally sound waste recycling, waste diversion and safe disposal methods. It will reduce marine litter contribution by strengthening plastic waste segregation, collection and disposal systems; upgrading plastic recycling technology; creating enabling policy and regulatory framework for reducing plastic consumption; and introducing circularity for maximizing resource efficiency.
“The project will provide a combination of technical and financial assistance and build the capacity of both ULBs and the state government to address the entire lifecycle of waste—from generation to collection and transportation, and finally treatment and disposal,” said Uri Raich, Senior Urban Specialist and Harsh Goyal, Urban Development Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project. “ULBs will have a lead role in delivering solid waste management services at the local level, including facilitating generator level waste segregation and treatment, primary collection and transportation, waste processing and recycling,” they added.
Behavior change and public participation is also key to a functional waste system. The project will support behavior change and awareness programs to motivate waste reduction, source-separation and reuse through extensive communication and outreach activities.
The project is the first end-to-end solid waste management project of the World Bank in India and is aligned with the long-term State Partnership Strategy between the World Bank and the Government of Kerala that focuses on building climate smart and disaster resilient urban infrastructure in Kerala as one of the core priorities under the Rebuilding Kerala Initiative (RKI).
The $105 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a final maturity of 13.5 years including a grace period of six years.