World Bank approves $105M waste management project in India

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a $105 million project to support Kerala, India in strengthening its solid waste management systems and services.

According to a World Bank statement, the Kerala Solid Waste Management Project will establish an integrated solid waste management system that includes a balanced mix of decentralised and centralised 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 and development of scientific landfills.

“The project will pay special attention to financial, operational and environmental sustainability of the solid waste management systems to be developed in the state,” the statement reads.

“These project activities will also contribute to improved flood resilience, since large parts of Kerala are prone to flooding.”

Kerala’s solid waste management capacity is currently constrained by limited primary collection and transportation systems, low capacity of community-level bio-waste treatment facilities, and a lack of centralised processing and disposal facilities.

According to a survey carried out by the Kerala government in 2018, over 70 per cent of the water sources in Kerala are contaminated, with over half of the pollution originating from solid waste in households, markets and hotels.

Recognising the urgency for improving solid waste management services, the Government of Kerala has taken several measures, such as a state-wide cleanliness mission, which includes solid waste management as one of its core priorities, and promoting a decentralised approach by asking local governments to improve source segregation.

The government is also 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 urban local bodies to formally engage with Kudumbashree groups as service providers of solid-waste management, including collection and transportation,” the statement reads.

World Bank Country Director Junaid Ahmad said solid waste management is critical to building sustainable, healthy and inclusive cities and communities, particularly in rapidly urbanising states like Kerala.

“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 said.

Kerala generates close to 330 tonnes of plastic waste every day, which is approximately nine per cent of the total municipal solid waste.

Currently, only three per cent of Kerala’s plastic wast 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 kilometre coastline and an extensive network of waterbodies.

It is estimated that close to 1.7 billion plastic pieces, with weight of around 1000 tonnes, are littered along its coasts.

“This project will promote environmentally sound waste recycling, waste diversion and safe disposal methods,” the World Bank statement reads.

“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 maximising resource efficiency.”

Senior Urban Specialist and World Bank Task Team Leader Uri Raich added that the project will provide a combination of technical and financial assistance, and build the capacity of urban local bodies and the state government to address the entire lifecycle of waste.

“Urban local bodies 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,” Raich said.

The project is the first end-to-end solid waste management project of the World Bank in India. It is aligned with the long-term State Partnership Strategy between the World Bank and the Government of Kerala, which focuses on building climate smart and disaster resilient urban infrastructure.

The $105 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has a final maturity of 13.5 years including a grace period of six years.

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