The Matuail Landfill in Dhaka, Bangladesh is the largest dumping site for Dhaka, a city of 14 million inhabitants that produces 3200-3500 tons of garbage every day. 1200 of these tons make their way to Matuail each day but a community of almost 10,000 households also call Matuail home. As in hundreds of other waste-scavenging communities around the world, Matuail’s inhabitants generate income through low-margin scavenging in the mountains of garbage. Often, piles of trash are first burned to eliminate the organic waste content such as food, wood, or paper. Not only are these practices dangerous, but they are also inefficient and environmentally damaging.
As the phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ implies, what we call ‘waste’ actually tends to hold great value when utilized properly. The first step towards collecting this lost wealth in Matuail is to work with local NGO’s as we teach the community how to separate out the organic waste and turn it into compost that can be sold or used for local agriculture. The process will be continuously scaled-up until we can install a small-scale bio-digester to produce methane fuel, thus powering a generator and electrical infrastructure for the community.
Ultimately, we are driven by community development. We are conducting surveys to help us accurately and comprehensively identify Matuail’s greatest needs and priorities. The generated electricity will allow the school to expand its capacity to include more students, provide vocational training to adults, and power computers. In the meantime, we are running fundraisers to raise much-needed supplies for its students. Electricity can also be used by local health clinics to improve their services and preserve temperature-sensitive medications or by community members to develop micro-enterprises that will give them the tools, opportunities, and confidence that they need to participate and succeed in society.
Project Phase 2 Implementation Goals (Ongoing)
1) Waste management at Household Level
2) Sorting Facility
4) Vocational Education
Project Phase 3 Implementation Goals (To begin 2012)
Waste Stream Analysis and On Site Visit in Bangladesh