Who is WASTE? Lessons from our senior experts

Where have we come from and where are we going? In this short series, we are pleased to highlight, some of our advisers who are the living story of WASTE—the people behind the organisation’s successes and innovative impact to date. In sitting down with our veteran expert advisers (some of whom have been with WASTE for more than two decades!), we see a few common themes which weaves us together—innovative, passionate systems-thinkers (often with ideas and ways of working that set major sector trends) who drive the bottom-up approach to all the work we do.

 

We sat down with 7 of these seasoned professionals to find out more about their experience and how they have seen WASTE transform over time.

 

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  1. What brought you to WASTE and how long have you been associated with the organization?

I have been connected to WASTE (since externally) for more than 25 years. I was always inspired by the work that they were doing in terms of solid waste management. However, it was only 10 years back, in 2010-11, when I joined WASTE officially after returning to the Netherlands form Bolivia and Nepal. My expertise lies within solid waste management, plastic recycling and entrepreneurship. Given my background in chemical engineering and environmental science, I have always been interested in recycling and the aspect of business development. During my tenure in Bolivia and Nepal, I specifically engaged with and set up recycling businesses with locals. I believe that with entrepreneurship you can create an impact and I like working with entrepreneurs and their innovativeness, especially in plastic recycling, where I get to share and develop models and ideas with some highly innovative and enthusiastic entrepreneurs on the ground.

 

  1. How do you think the organization has evolved over the years?

I have always been associated with the solid waste recycling and plastics at WASTE because that was one of my interests and passions, also because I have always seen the problems and opportunities in it. The idea that people can earn money with plastic recycling and that you need to work on the system to facilitate it has been at the forefront of my approach. While solid waste management and plastic recycling has been a part of WASTE’s thematic focus for quite some time, globally these issues have gained more popularity and attention only recently. WASTE has played an active role in developing plastic waste management programmes to get to this point where I have had the opportunity of sharing my expertise and experience putting it to use effectively with our partners.

 

  1. What are the projects you are currently working on?

This year I have done several projects under the WASTE Co-operative (COOP) umbrella. I’ve supported the due diligence project for the plastic recycling enterprises in Mali, especially with respect to technical, health and safety measures for Cordaid. I also worked on an assignment for IFC as well as worked with a partner in Malawi. Another project I am working on is recycling of ‘banana plastic’, where we are working towards recycling and utilising plastic from banana plantations [production] in a way that it can be re-used or up-cycled on-site at the plantation itself.

 

  1. Can you share a little about the process of developing these models of solid waste management and plastic recycling?

My belief to always look for the value in waste, understand how we can give it value, and then accordingly set up systems for this process. I have been working on developing multiple projects, one of which includes the Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics (FINILOOP) project which looks at plastic waste management in cities. FINILOOP was started two years ago in India and will be receiving funding from the Alliance to End Plastic Waste to continue. WASTE is working to develop a model for working with cities, which we call ‘plastic waste free cities.’ Here we work on waste collection, sorting and recycling also called a ‘circular economy’ approach.

 

  1. What does the concept of circular economy mean to you?

For me, the concept is not new in terms of plastic recycling. Rather a lot of research has been done on circular plastics. However, what is necessary is to first look at prevention and to not generate unnecessary waste. An example of which could be carrying cotton bags instead of plastic bags to prevent (single use) waste from generating in the first place. Secondly, I think it is important to redesign plastic waste value chains. That is thinking about the ways of collection and recycling at the very beginning of designing plastic packaging. This could also involve making recycling easy by putting clear and [understandable] signs about recycling, along with avoiding the use of multi-material packaging and making informed choices about the plastics being used in packaging. Thirdly, the aspect of reuse in recycling is also extremely important, particularly with the perspective of keeping the materials longer in the ‘loop’.

We are living in times where we cannot entirely stop the use of plastics. However, we can always rethink how plastics are used and made, so that they can be more easily recycled.

 

  1. What are the recent areas of development you see in your field and plan to engage with in the future?

One area of research that I have been working on is the aspect of low-value plastics—multi-layer materials and low-grade plastics that are not only difficult to recycle but are also not picked up by the waste pickers because they are usually dirty and do not have any volume. Making then one of the least recycled plastics worldwide. These materials will consequently be in our environment and ecosystem for a very long time.

Therefore, it is in this area where we are looking for new business models and processes to make something valuable out these plastics, such a roofing tiles and stones. I have already set an enterprise in Kenya which is making roofing tiles out of waste. But we are also working with various innovators in Netherlands and India to develop other products using these wastes and are working on incubating other such instrumental innovations that we can use.

 

  1. Every region has its own tradition of sustainable and circular practices. How do you and your colleagues incorporate these into your models and programs to bring forward innovative changes?

The FINILOOP model works in cities, where it makes used of WASTE’s foundational Diamond Model to engage with the main local stakeholders including governments and municipalities, while building on the already existing practices of the region and ensuring that there is segregation of waste at the source, collection of waste and finally sorting and processing at the waste collection center. Thus, making streams of recyclable waste and selling it to the market for the recyclables, which is also a key stakeholder in the model.

 

Sophie is a Senior Expert at WASTE developing especially our plastic waste expertise.
View her team bio and get in touch here.

 

  1. What brought you to WASTE and how long have you been associated with the organisation?

I joined WASTE in 2004 after working with the United Nations and as an individual consultant in the Netherlands. I was looking for a dynamic working environment, something that I found at WASTE, along with their thematic approach which I really liked. It has been over a decade now since I have been associated with this organisation, where I have been working on sanitation, solid waste management, innovative financing, enterprise collaboration, partnership building and capacity development.

 

  1. How do you think the organization has evolved over the years of your association with it?

Looking at organizational structure, I have witnessed WASTE diversify into a Foundation and Co-operative and come back together, while at the same time developing as an organization by strengthening its structure and framework. On the thematic aspects, I’ve witnessed WASTE diversify and work on multiple thematic projects such as waste management, sanitation and financial innovations, refining its niche in these areas. I am looking forward to the cross-cutting themes that come into the fold from these places.

 

  1. What does the concept of circular economy in relation to waste management mean to you?

I’ve worked mainly on sanitation where we primarily look at resource utilization in terms of water and working with faecal matter. This is one of the interesting parts for me given the complexity of turning waste into something with utility and value. It is in this process where the idea of circular economy comes into play, specifically in the aspect of building models that are sustainable and generate value while at the same being profitable to an extent that ensures sustainability. Thus, encouraging us to think beyond nice pilots towards making them scalable and sustainable in the future—particularly in the context of countries such as India where a population of 1.3 billion could easily become an asset by converting the organic waste generated in the country into a resource base. This not only has the potential of boasting world economies but also carries a large degree of environmental benefits such as replenishing essential nutrients like carbon back into the soils. Through our work here at WASTE, we are thusly not only addressing livelihood issues, but also development and environmental issues which have a long-term impact on climate resilience.

 

  1. What are the projects you are currently working on/engaged in?

Currently, I am deputated as the CEO of the Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation and Health (FINISH) Mondial programme, where we are working on the circular sanitation economy in 6 countries (Kenya, India, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Bangladesh). I have also been working on Securing Water for Food (2017-19) and other innovative financing developments.

 

  1. Could you share a little more about the process of developing the FINISH Mondial programme?

We conceptualized the ideas behind FINISH while we were working on other projects in these target countries. The ideas behind came rather organically to us after we studies the situation on the ground and identified the gaps in development [such as access to finance and quality technical designs for sanitation systems]. Building on these then involved a long process of stakeholder engagement as well as brainstorming on our part to develop them to be efficient, cost-effective and sustainable for the local communities.

 

  1. What are the recent areas of development that you see in your field of expertise and plan to engage with in the future?

Working on and developing such models of sanitation and faecal sludge management starts at a smaller scale with voluntary schemes. However, working on scaling these models to the larger context can not only help develop sustainable systems but bring in the aspect of climate financing.

Another critical theme for any government across the world currently is curative healthcare and healthcare financing, so we are looking to bridge that gap through our circular sanitation models. If we prevent people from falling sick, that has a tremendous boast on the curative sector, and this is something we can definitely focus and capitalize on in the coming future. We at WASTE have been working on this for many years and looking at trends in the sector, we expect to witness breakthroughs especially in the areas of telemedicine, preventive healthcare data and insurance products. In this field, with projects and models such as ours, what is important is to build an environment of trust amongst partners and stakeholders while utilizing the opportunities to experiment and learn from them, as well as benefit from our combined successes.

 

  1. Every region has its own tradition sustainable and circular practices. How do you and your colleagues incorporate these into your models and programs to bring forward innovative changes?

As much as possible, we are supporting the scale-up and viability of local innovations. As a team, we have scaled up and replicated ideas that have originated from, for example, our partners in India and have worked very well in Ethiopia. Similarly, some which originated in Ethiopia have worked very well in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. We get tremendous diversity in programs in terms of technology, expertise and growth. Working with and supporting these local innovations and approaches to challenges means that we try to build models which are sustainable in terms of costs for all stakeholders (including the end-users).

 

Valentin is a Senior Expert at WASTE developing especially our innovative financing and sanitation expertise.
View his team bio and get in touch here.

 

  1. What brought you to waste and how long have you been associated with the organization?

I came to WASTE in 2001 and have been both directly and indirectly associated with it since then. Prior to 2001, I was based in the Middle East where I was working on on-site sanitation which is something that I worked on along with developing different kinds of techniques at WASTE. Thus, I was able to continue with my experience that I had gained in the Middle East at WASTE, which at the time was thematically focused on solid waste management. It gave me an opportunity to set up a sanitation programme.

 

  1. How do you think the organization has evolved over the years?

Over the course of my association with organization, I have seen it transform from merely being a knowledge hub to a more dynamic organization, working with partners ‘on the ground’. Apart from that, WASTE has also diversified its approach from being solely urban-centric to focusing on both rural and urban areas in its programmes, specifically in the context of sanitation and solid waste management. The organization has thus worked towards advancing and developing models on its various thematic focuses by crystalizing and generalizing our experiences and expertise of its advisors to be more flexible for different projects and varying contexts.

 

  1. What are the projects you are currently working on/engaged in?

I have been instrumental in developing some of the key programmes and approaches at WASTE including the sanitation expertise and the Diamond Model many of WASTE and sector projects now use. I am also currently the lead link for WASTE’s FINISH Mondial programme in Bangladesh and am involved with the SDG WASH programme, as well as an upcoming project on faecal sludge management.

 

  1. Could you share a little about the process of developing these models of sanitation and faecal sludge management?

Our models have been very much based on the ideas of circular economy since the beginning, building on the concept of resource recovery and reusing the products from the sanitation sector. This mainly focuses on nutrients recycling from faecal sludge matter. Furthermore, when I came to WASTE, I already had the experience of developing and implementing similar models in the Middle East and I had worked on developing a network known as the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) for WASTE. We at WASTE particularly work on using our experiences and expertise for developing and implementing various programmes and models which are often partly technical in nature and also involve the use of innovative logistical tools based on the contextual requirements of an area where a project may be implemented. Developing cost effective innovative sanitation solutions has been a key focus.

 

  1. What does the concept of circular economy mean to you?

Most sanitation and faecal sludge management models have strongly incorporated the principles of circular economy. We develop a multi-stakeholder model which not only establishes a sustainable reuse and recycling ecosystem but also contributes tremendously in tackling the issues of nutrient loss and climate mitigation/adaptation measures. Particularly in the context of nutrient platforms, we work towards recycling scarce nutrients such a phosphorous from recycling waste products like faecal sludge.

 

  1. What are the recent areas of development do you see in your field of expertise and plan to engage with in the future?

One thing that WASTE has started and has been working on is emergency sanitation which came out of a simple question of ‘why is sanitation backwards in emergency situations?’ where we address the issue of providing safe and clean sanitation in emergency situations along with humanitarian [emergency response] organizations. This issue has become an important agenda in the humanitarian sector and requires not only our experience and expertise but also innovative ideas and solutions to effectively tackle it in a sustainable manner.

 

7. Every region has its own traditional sustainable and circular practices. How do you and your colleagues incorporate these into your models and programs to bring forward innovative changes?

We consider ourselves to be more as facilitators and contribute to the process developing and jump-starting these models of sanitation and faecal sludge management on the ground in such a way that they are sustainable and can be independently run and supported by the local communities and stakeholders themselves. This process, to an extent, involves building on the contextual local practices and needs by formulating and incubating multi-stakeholder systems with the people it is meant for, prioritizing what has already been working there first.

 

Gert is a Senior Expert at WASTE developing especially our green jobs & business development in waste & technical innovations expertise.
View his team bio and get in touch here.

 

 

  1. What brought you to WASTE and how long have you been associated with the organization?

I was working as an independent consultant in the field of business and finance when WASTE was looking for somebody with these skills to join their team. I had no background in waste management but was quite intrigued about the thematic focus which was really interesting and complicated from a finance perspective, as was WASTE itself and the organizational structure. I joined WASTE around 2010 and have been working with it for over decade now.

 

  1. How do you think the organization has evolved over the years?

When I joined WASTE, there were a lot of innovative ideas and hunches about what we wanted to do and achieve. WASTE is an organization that has a lot of ideas and is always curious to explore where these ideas take us. We developed several concepts which revolved around the basic structure of the (a) ‘what’, such as the concepts of circular value chains and (b) ‘how’, which revolves around the method and style we plan to adopt, always with an aim that they would be easy to create and implement. An example of this is the Diamond Model. These are accompanied by the idea of scaling, which revolves around the concept of how to replicate and scale these models that have also been developed by us.

What is interesting about WASTE and these three concepts particularly, is that we could picture and understand what we wanted to achieve, as well as could easily explain to our partners what we wanted to execute on the ground. I think as an organization, WASTE has been instrumental in developing models that have helped set the standards and the pace of this industry. For us, success is measured in terms of the versatility of our models, and how easily they can be adopted and implemented in different regions both by us, and our fellow organizations in the sector, to achieve greater impact.

 

  1. What does the concept of circular economy and waste management mean to you?

Waste management is a big public sector issue and is also a sector where people have relied a lot on the government and its structures. So, there are various kinds of subsidies pouring into this sector, with respect to developing toilets and other such waste management practices. However, these also come with their own drawbacks—the primary drawback being the constraints of public finance as well as the limitation of people’s choice and the methods that they can adopt. This also impacts the sustainability of such projects. In such situations, what is required is that we develop mechanisms which bring both the public finance and the private finance together to build effective mechanisms of financing waste management and circular economy projects to get them moving and sustainable.

 

  1. What are you are currently working on/engaged in?

I am currently working on WASTE’s Take-a-Stake project. If you look at our Diamond Model, one of the key domains of that is finance. We started with the idea of “finance” in this model being limited, just to help people obtain loans to build toilets. However, when we looked at the other supplementary angles of the Diamond Model, we also find that along with developing a demand for the products, we are also helping set up circular companies and ecosystems which help satiate these demands. Take-a-Stake is thus a mechanism/fund we are setting up to help such growing ecosystems of circular economy in the water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH) and waste sectors grow and scale up, by facilitating access to finance for entrepreneurs. This is indeed both a new concept and a risky sector. However, our primary aim with this project is to show the world that such ecosystems/cycles and markets of circular economy in WASH and waste management can become sustainable, managing to sustain themselves overall.

 

  1. What are the recent areas of development that you see in your field of expertise and plan to engage with in the future?

I would really like to look at the hampering factors that we face while working with the instruments of public finance and finding applicable solutions to overcome these roadblocks.

 

  1. Every region has its own traditional and sustainable practices. How do you and your colleagues incorporate these into your models and programmes to bring forward innovative changes?

There is no customization when it comes to finance models. For every country it is necessary to understand what their business environment is and what is the government’s position. It is important to understand the local mechanisms and local sectors. Few countries have a strong public finance system, so how we manage to develop mechanisms of finance that are sustainable in these countries, along with limiting the number of defaulters and not distorting local markets is key.

 

Jacqueline is a Senior Expert at WASTE developing especially our innovative financing expertise.
View her team bio and get in touch here.

 

 

  1. What brought you to WASTE and how long have you been associated with the organization?

I started working with WASTE in June 2003 and have been associated with it ever since. I was working with SNV in Vietnam and once I came back to the Netherlands, I have been working with WASTE.

 

  1. How do you think the organization has evolved over the years?

WASTE has always been an organization which has provided plenty of space for debates and discussions on ideas related to its different fields of focus. This not only provided us with the space to grow individually as advisors, but also developed an environment which encouraged the development of some new and innovative ideas. Thematically, WASTE has not seen very drastic changes. The thematic focus of waste management has been there, along with which added sanitation and plastics. As an organization, we have always been incredibly good with putting our concepts and ideas into actual models. Our strength has always been to analyze what we see, convert it into a model and then develop those models into something that we can apply on the ground.

 

  1. What does the concept of circular economy and waste management mean to you?

If you look at the history of WASTE and the Integrate Solid Waste Management (ISWM) models, the concept of ‘circularity’ is fully incorporated in them. Since 2009-10, we have been developing concepts regarding urban and rural leakages. We have always been talking about reuse of waste and faecal sludge. The only difference is that globally it is now that we are witnessing more emphasis and resources being placed on this concept of circular economy. This concept of circular economy is great. However, the problem is that we do not have enough people on the ground currently working on it, as well as to investing in it.

 

  1. What projects are you are currently working on/engaged in?

I started with WASTE as a sanitation advisor, and I have kept working on sanitation. In the beginning, I was working on ecological sanitation and  more technical parts. Then my focus shifted to sanitation finance. Now, I am more involved with faecal sludge management, particularly on WASTE’s FINISH Mondial Bangladesh programme, considering the financial, institutional, and technical aspects. Being a civil engineer, I have been engaging with technicalities of these projects including developing various faecal sludge pumps and the models that put them to use on the ground.

 

  1. What are the recent areas of development that you see in your field of expertise and plan to engage with in the future?

I think one such interesting field which has not got enough attention is research on toilets and desludging, especially in the context of the marketability and financial feasibility. Apart from these, an area which is still open for research is the different mechanisms and techniques for the treatment of faecal sludge. These are some areas where we could use a lot more thinking power. Thus, the entire process of institutionalization of our systems and deciphering the institutional rates that would help make these systems implementable and sustainable with ideas such as developing effective public-private partnership mechanisms in these highly challenging sectors of sanitation and waste management, given the multitude of stakeholders engaged in these sectors.

 

  1. Every region has its own traditional and sustainable practices. How do you and your colleagues incorporate these into your models and programmes to bring forward innovative changes?

ISWM and the Diamond Model are based on practice and were developed by conducting several analyses on waste management practices across different cities. Everything we do is based on local practices and contexts.

 

Stan is a Senior Expert at WASTE developing especially our integration of faecal sludge (FSM) & solid waste management and technical innovations expertise.
View his team bio and get in touch here.

 

  1. What brought you to WASTE and how long have you been associated with the organization?

I started working with WASTE in a part time format in 1999. I was associated with an NGO working on recycling in developing countries, and along with that I started my journey here as an Information Officer and Office Manager, eventually diversifying my expertise and working quite intensively with the field of waste and sanitation, as well as in the areas of monitoring and evaluation and solid waste advisory.

 

  1. How do you think the organization has evolved over the years?

When I joined WASTE, they were working mainly on solid waste and on some pilot projects related to that, along with running comparative analyses of the different kinds of waste management systems worldwide. It was around 2004-05 when sanitation was added as a thematic focus. It was around that time that issues around ecological and dry sanitation were upcoming, also because they were somewhat linked with solid waste, since when you work with dry sanitation, you also have the solid waste chain working for you. Over the years, with the increasing focus being given in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the changes in the flow of funds towards issues related to sanitation, we found an increase in the focus on projects and work being done in the field of sanitation.

As an organization, we work a lot with partners and are a very close-knit network, where we have had longstanding associations with some partners which have evolved and developed over the years. As an organization, WASTE has also always had a wide spread of team members, advisors, and consultants, all coming from diverse backgrounds and fields of expertise. This helped the organization progress with the flow of the sector, whilst maintaining an environment of inclusivity.

 

  1. What projects are you are currently working on?

I am currently working on a solid waste project in Mali which deals with employment for small enterprises in waste management. Along with which I am working in WASH SDG Ethiopia with Stan Maessen where my tasks involve coordinating the project and providing technical inputs.

 

  1. Could you share a little about the process of developing these models of sanitation and solid waste management?

For the projects that I work on, we mainly use WASTE’s ISWM approach. ISWM follows a structure where you try to find all the stakeholders involved and bring them together, especially municipalities if the projects revolve around solid waste management. Further, if possible, you try and put them together in a platform and set up the project based on the wishes and possibilities of that city or urban area. This is done after conducting several analyses and studies throughout the process. We try to keep the work as participatory and inclusive as possible.

When looking at WASTE’s Diamond Approach, it forms a key part of the work and has a lot to do with our vision which primarily revolves around stimulating the process, while keeping ourselves not particularly involved as we aim to develop self-sufficient and sustainable systems. However, they all come with their own challenges. The idea is to start working from there and try to give the stakeholders support when needed, but not so much being the center of the projects ourselves.

 

  1. What does the concept of circular economy mean to you?

Solid waste is an important part of a circular economy, and we are a long way away from a fully circular economy. Whether we can achieve zero waste fully is secondary, but we can always work towards it. The best example of it is the plastics, which must be taken out of the nature equations. For me and WASTE, circular economy is an interesting and important concept.

 

  1. What are the recent areas of development you see in your field of expertise and plan to engage with in the future?

I am interested in assessments and planning, and I have been involved on working on a tool called CLUES or SQUAT. What I find interesting is the area of research around integration of solid waste management and sanitation—how can you approach them jointly? Because there are some spaces of interaction between the two, especially when you are working with things like co-composting. The question is whether there are more opportunities to do more such joint efforts, which depends on how you approach the issues of sanitation and solid waste. I think these sectors could learn a lot from each other.

 

  1. Every region has its own traditional sustainable and circular practices. How do you and your colleagues incorporate these into your models and programs to bring forward innovative changes?

It is especially important to incorporate traditional and local practices, specifically in the field of solid waste management, because we do not want to go against the wind. One thing is that you do not want to set up a system where for example, a thousand waste pickers go without a job, which does happen quite often. What you want is to try and incorporate them in the models from the beginning. So, if you want to put up a plant for shredding plastics, you also have a considerable influence on a smaller scale on a lot of workers down the chain. Additionally, if you are working on building toilets and you do not know what the customs of the land are, you mostly end up building the wrong kind of toilets. So, you must consider the customs and the way they work. Also, how the financial flows go in the country since you cannot change all of them. For instance, in the case of financial flows, if the funds from the municipalities appear to be insufficient for various reasons, then you can always try to bring in private players who can help fill the gap. Bringing in private players can look like charging a small fee to help with waste collection or disposal. So, we at WASTE do give a lot of importance to the local customs and traditions of the different communities we work with.

 

Verele is a Senior Expert at WASTE developing especially our integration of faecal sludge (FSM) & solid waste management (SWM) and green jobs & business development expertise.
View her team bio and get in touch here.

 

 

  1. What brought you to waste and how long have you been associated with the organization?

In 1995, I was working in Costa Rica with one of the former partners of WASTE. It was through that organization that I started working with WASTE on a project involving informal sector co-operatives and micro-enterprises on plastic recycling and waste management. After, I joined WASTE directly. What attracted me to this organization was its humbleness and the approach towards looking for equity in development. So, I started my journey with WASTE indirectly around 1995-97, and then later started directly in 2000-05 and again in 2017 till today.

 

  1. How do you think the organization has evolved over the years of your association with it?

WASTE as an organization has always had a holistic approach of looking for equitable solutions, while focusing on the whole issue of development. Specifically, looking at urban development from the point of view of inclusion and holistic growth, with a vision that was more than just a brand name. This vision of WASTE is also what brought all the different partners together. Thematically the organization has always worked on the two topics of solid waste management and sanitation. However, the emphasis between the two has varied over the years.

 

  1. What does the concept of circular economy and waste management mean to you?

For me the concept of circular economy is good, but it not something new. While we focus on considering circular aspects, we should understand that a program as a standalone could result in doing much more damage than good. What is needed in this model of circular economy is to change how we formulate our business models, by ensuring that consumption from the start is less. While the concept of circularity is good and unifying at a global level, towards a goal of protecting the environment, it is necessary to implement this model in a way that builds upon existing models and plans. These already carry some good thought and benefit in them. Uprooting them entirely, or what we can think of as ‘reinventing the wheel’ is not always a good option.

 

  1. What are the projects you are currently working on/engaged in?

My main activities in the organization are mostly solid waste related. I have also been working on sanitation and the WASH SDG program, since there is clear link between solid waste management, sanitation, and faecal sludge management. My work also focuses on city-wide planning especially regarding faecal sludge management.

 

  1. Could you share a little more about the process of developing these models?

WASTE’s Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) model has been very successful and inclusive. My main take away has been that it is a holistic planning approach applied to solid waste and urban management which has been crucial to its success. One aspect I focused on while working with these models is to translate the concepts into practical applications. This includes designing exercises which examine different stakeholders, identifying stakeholders and establishing the relationships between those stakeholders. When we are working on ground, we cannot see everything directly, so you must use tools that help create deeper insights about the kinds of regions and systems that you are engaging with both directly and indirectly. So, on one level it is about the stakeholders and on the second, it is about understanding that solid waste and faecal sludge management are part of a chain of activities—many faces forming a complete system. It is important to know how they are linked. Some of them might not be formally recognized but are present in the system.

 

Solid waste and faecal sludge management are not only about the technical part, but also have social, institutional, legal, and environmental parts attached to it. It is important to understand how to train people to assess their own situations by considering all elements to be part of a solution.

 

  1. What are recent areas of development that you see in the sector and plan to engage with in the future?

We must learn and grow from past experiences and assess the models themselves, to see whether they are useful and if they work. I think one of key areas of development that we can focus on is translating the work being done into different languages. This would not only make it more accountable but will also highlight the different dynamics, instruments, development tools and techniques used across regions. While this is something that WASTE has been doing through its collaborative approach and practical trainings, there is still room to expand and influence others to follow suit.

 

  1. Every region has its own tradition of sustainable and circular practices. How do you incorporate these into your work?

Every country or region that we engage with has different capabilities and systems. While some of them might easily adapt to our models, some might struggle. Thus, it is important to consider local customs, capabilities, and systems of the countries to bring wanted change in a way that would work best in that particular setting.

 

Jeroen is a Senior Expert at WASTE developing especially our integration of faecal sludge (FSM) & solid waste management (SWM) expertise. View his team bio and get in touch here.

 

Authored by WASTE advisers, Lauren Pope & Deepakshi Singh.