Waste is a problem that has an impact on economics, the environment, and people's lives and livelihoods. Because a huge amount of garbage is openly disposed of or burnt in low-income nations, the poor and most vulnerable people suffer disproportionately.
Under the rapidly expanding urbanization, the solid waste management industry in emerging nations will experience rising strain. The pursuit for progress and economic growth by developing countries like the Philippines has resulted in the manufacture, distribution and use of products and generation of waste, more than half of which is openly dumped in landfill sites. This contributes to environmental degradation and poses negative implications to health and prosperity.
In response, World Vision Development Foundation and EcoWaste Coalition, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Global Development (BMZ), are implementing the PHINLA Project, a global program to develop livelihood for poverty affected population through a multi-sectoral established and monitored waste management system. PHINLA (an acronym for Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka where the program is being implemented) aims to assist the government in the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and the National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in the Philippines, specifically in three pilot barangays in the country: Bagong Silangan in Quezon City; Cugman in Cagayan De Oro City; and Mintal in Davao City.
“To address the issues surrounding high urbanization and the massive increase of waste products in the island states of three implementing countries, a multi-country Solid Waste Management (SWM) program was designed and is currently being implemented for four years from 2019. This global program intends to develop livelihood for poverty-affected populations through systematic waste management systems sustainably established and monitored through multi-sector cooperation,” said PHINLA Global Program Director Giorgi Devidze.
PHINLA’s interventions are two-pronged: one deals with the barangay’s SWM system and one with waste workers. Through PHINLA, the Barangay Ecological Solid Waste Management Committee (BESWMC), a multistakeholder body which is mandated by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003 to oversee the barangay’s ESWM program, was revived and restructured. Furthermore, Mintal Resource Collectors’ Association, Bagong Silangan Resource Collectors’ Association, and Kabulig sa Kinaiyahan Association are formalized and are included in the BESWMC of their respective barangays.
PHINLA also conducts series of training activities that build the technical capacities of its beneficiaries, including training on financial literacy that later gave birth to the establishment of the three barangays’ own Community-Managed Savings and Credit Association (CoMSCA). Randy Irog, one of the beneficiaries in Mintal, shared that he was able to build a pig pen and triple his earnings monthly because of CoMSCA and PHINLA. “Ang PHINLA, blessing kayo sa pamilya ko, sa aming lugar. Lumuwag talaga ang buhay ko. Dito sa PHINLA ko naranasan na ako naman ang magbigay (PHINLA has really been a blessing to my family and my community. My life has been better. This is where I’ve experienced being the one to give to others),” Irog shared.
PHINLA Stakeholders’ Gathering
Three years after its launch, PHINLA held its National Stakeholders Conference on November 23, 2022 at Luxent Hotel, Quezon City. This one-day conference brought together international and national key officials and resource collectors from the three project sites. It aimed to discuss policy and adaptation gaps, highlight community savings and livelihood in implementing RA 9003, and formally recognize the achievements of resource collectors in the three areas.
In the said conference, Cugman, Cagayan de Oro Chairman Wendelyn Escobia admitted that there had been problems in their waste management system before PHINLA came. They had delayed collection and improper waste management. There was no permanent materials recovery facility, and they only had one dump truck for waste collection. Residents were not fully aware of proper waste disposal.
“Through PHINLA’s guidance, we were able to craft policies in the barangay about proper solid waste management that support the construction of an MRF and the procurement of an additional dump truck for efficient garbage collection. Also through the help of PHINLA, our waste collectors in Cugman no longer spend a lot of time segregating wastes because it’s being done already in the household level,” Escobia shared. Escobia also amazed the crowd when he shared that more sand and less plastics can now be found in their drainage system, a clear indication that the residents are now properly disposing their solid waste.
Meanwhile, Chairman Rey Amador Bargamento of Barangay Mintal, Davao City shared that as early as 2013, Mintal has already been intentional in intensifying segregation at source. There was high compliance, but logistic limitations took a toll on their campaign. They had no clear collection schedule and had only one mini dump truck catering to 23 areas.
"When we started, we were lacking knowledge, equipment, and personnel. That's why we are grateful that PHINLA partnered with us. We had training activities already. We have the tools that we need. Our partnership with PHINLA helps us in making segregation at source an ultimate goal in Barangay Mintal. It makes our dream for a clean barangay closer to reality,” said Chairman Bargamento.
For Barangay Bagong Silangan, Joshua Asne, Sangguniang Kabataan Councilor and a member of Bagong Silangan’s BESWMC, shared that through PHINLA’s help, more than 500,000 kg of waste have been diverted in their barangay and it exceeded their target diversion for 2022 by 29%.
“The success stories of our beneficiaries from Cugman, Mintal, and Bagong Silangan only prove that with proper support, waste workers can work safely and productively with dignity,” said World Vision Development Foundation Executive Director Rommel Fuerte.
What is next for PHINLA?
A few more months remain in the current phase of PHINLA implementation, but there’s no stopping the project management team from doing more. In fact, the Philippine delegation for the Global Waste Management Committee has been selected from among the conference participants. This is in line with the program’s goal of replicating what PHINLA has been doing to establish good solid waste management policies and good SWM practices at the national and even global level.
“PHINLA Program will continue collaboration with relevant national and local government representatives, private sector, and individual material collectors to further improve the waste management sector function as well as enhance income generation around recyclable materials to ensure sustainability of the activities and community-based waste management model. We will further strive to nurture relationships of the three implementing countries—the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka—on the common issue of waste management for better collaboration as well as for joint planning and implementation process of improved waste management practices” Devidze ended.