Georgetown, GINA, August 8, 2016
Government’s efforts to address solid waste management and propel a green economy have moved a step forward with the launch of the draft solid waste management strategy.
Speaking at the launch today, at the Umana Yana, Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan highlighted that, the changed nature of solid waste imposes “a need to be sophisticated with our approaches in dealing with the challenges of effective and efficient solid waste management.”
Therefore, the minister said, that the strategy is necessary, especially since the natural beauty of Guyana is overshadowed by poor management of solid waste though there are measures to transform waste, and deal with litter offenders, Minister Bulkan explained.
Also present at the launch were Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Dawn Hastings- Williams, Mayors, and Regional Chairmen among others stakeholders.
The Minister stressed that it is necessary to preserve and protect the environment for the wellbeing of all. To reduce the negative impact from poor solid waste management, the government has referred to the Integrated Solid Waste Management Strategy. “In order to reduce the carbon footprint of activities pursued across the nation, the Government has underscored the importance of a green economic policy which will see new initiatives in this management,” Minister Bulkan said.
Additionally, having an integrated approach to waste management, the Ministry of Communities has established a sanitation management unit with qualified personnel for information regarding waste management initiatives across the country. The mandate of the unit is to provide support in the area of waste management in three broad areas; infrastructural development, institutional development and capacity building and public awareness and community participation, the Minister pointed out.
Further, the Ministry of Communities will initiate the training of local councils and will be providing the necessary tools for effective solid waste management. The Minister pointed out that it is necessary for all to be involved in proper disposal in Guyana.
Giving a brief history of the Integrated Solid Waste Management strategy, Minister Bulkan noted that it was first drafted in 2014 under the Georgetown Solid Waste Programme with support from Inter-American Bank (IDB). He said, “In compiling the document, the consultant engaged several stakeholders including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and private sector bodies.” These engagements were a requirement of the consultancy.
The Minister further explained that the consultation on the draft strategy and its eventual finalisation will emphasise the participatory approach for decision making in matters which affect communities all across Guyana.
When the strategy is finalised, it will require Cabinet’s approval to become the primary policy for Integrated Solid Waste Management. The Ministry of Communities will subsequently develop regulations, standards and guidelines to implement the strategy, the Minister explained.
Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Dawn Hastings-Williams noted that, “solid waste or garbage is everybody’s business.” The Minister explained that Guyana has joined the global community on the pathway to becoming a green economy where every task undertaken will take into consideration the preservation of the environment.
Minister Hastings-Williams explained that since its ascension to office, the government has placed emphasis on solid waste management, as was evident through the nationwide campaign and clean-up effort witnessed across the country.
Minister Hastings-Williams believes that the launch of the draft strategy will inform citizens of their role in contributing to society’s environment. “We’re happy that as the government we are on the way to becoming the garden city,” the Minister said.
The Ministry of Communities is committed is to providing guidance and leadership to organisations through resources or any other means, the Minister committed.
The Minister urged mayors, NDCs, RDCs and private organisations to take their knowledge from the launching, to edify their communities and to think green, separate waste and properly store it to preserve the environment. “If we reuse and recover waste, we have a better way of managing solid waste,” the Minister pointed out.
Satrohan Nauth, Environmental Engineer of the Ministry of Communities, via a power point presentation informed the gathering that solid waste management is very important because it is a reflection of how the government views the environment, and protection for public health. Nauth pointed out that the Ministry of Communities will produce legislative framework to educate people on solid waste management.
The engineer explained that improper solid waste management could deter foreign investors, and tourists which could lead to economic decline in a country. “We all are producers of waste and the first thing is we have to know the waste system.”
Nauth said that the aim of the Ministry of Communities is to develop other sanitary landfills in the other administrative regions.
Additionally , the engineer said that the solid waste hierarchy developed by the United Nations is envisioned for the future of waste management in Guyana. “Waste management has to be cost effective for consumers and affordable, that’s why we want to minimise transportation (and) that’s why we want all regions to have landfills sites,” he said.
Tagman Media has also come on board to help in solid waste management. Alex Graham, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), explained that the company is working towards training behaviour, through the Green Generation Guyana initiative.
Graham noted that the aim is to develop a new generation of Guyanese for whom environmental consciousness and solid waste disposal habits come naturally.
The aim is to restart education in solid waste management in children; shift the responsibility for education and for advocacy away from central government to other places, and have central government focus on providing the technical knowledge and the resources towards developing a grass roots community-based approach to solid waste management among others, Graham stated.