In 2021, GCT was successful in applying for funding from the Corra Foundation in Scotland, enabling us to work in partnership with the Environment Support Group, based in Bangalore, to pilot the impact of waste segregation in part of the L. R. Nagar Slum.
Waste segregation by residents, and the collection of waste by the municipal council is a serious but avoidable environmental and health problem, particularly in the slums of Bangalore. The focus by the municipal council is largely on servicing the needs of middle and upper class neighbourhoods. Our pilot project sought to address this issue through workshops with residents of a community within LR Nagar slum (1st to 5th Cross).
A series of workshops for a total of 75 residents, separated into three groups (adults, youth aged 17-25, and children aged 13-16) took place over five months, addressing environmental justice, rights and the law, and gender equality. Female participants were also given information about, and the opportunity to use environmentally-friendly sanitary products. Leaders were chosen from the workshop participants to promote waste segregation by slum residents, and participate in meetings with local government officials to address the current problems with waste collection.
Over the five months of the pilot project (October 2021 – February 2022), change was seen in the community. Of around 600 households in the 5 Lanes in which we worked, around 445 households were segregating their waste. Some groups have also begun point-systems and public appraisals for lanes that have the greatest number of homes segregating and disposing waste. It will take beyond the lifetime of this pilot project for all the inhabitants of the slum to feel responsible, individually, and collectively, for waste segregation, but we are pleased with the progress that we have made. That the project has been owned and monitored by the community seems to have improved the delivery of our objectives.
There are a myriad of issues faced by members in the slum community, in addition to environmental issues. To effectively address the focus of this project, waste segregation, we also needed to address these other issues. Therefore, our project incorporated training on gender and equality, alongside training on the environment and climate change. We managed to discuss the connections between all these issues during our training session, with positive results. For example, we have seen participants encouraging children to remain in school, enrolling girls in schools, talking about the legal ages for girls to marry, and discouraging youth and men from marrying minors.