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Kathmandu, Nepal / Arendal, Norway - 9 June 2022 – A team from GRID-Arendal travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal and participated in the kick-off of the project “Preventing plastic in Nepal rivers by strengthening the informal sector”, supported by Handelens Miljøfond. GRID-Arendal’s Polar Communications Officer Sabrina Heerema and Senior Expert Björn Alfthan were joined by representatives from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and two local partners, the waste management company DOKO Recyclers and the NGO CREASION, for the project’s first in-person meeting. The trip coincided with the first event of the project, “Workshop 1”. The workshop was a great success, with over 100 attendees and 4 Nepali media organisations covering the event.

The 3-year project’s main activities include identifying the main sources of plastic entering rivers in Kathmandu Valley, mapping the challenges that informal waste workers are facing, increasing the recyclability and value of plastics, building the capacity of women in the informal waste sector, and communicating and raising awareness on the ability of women informal waste workers to reduce plastic waste. GRID-Arendal’s role is to manage and coordinate the project, as well as being responsible for communication and raising awareness. The project partners are the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Doko Recyclers, ISWA and CREASION.

The trip allowed the project team to get to know one another and visit hotspots for their planned plastics mapping. The team witnessed the thematic problem areas first-hand and were able to document them in detail, coming to a common understanding about how to best implement the year’s planned activities and beyond. They met representatives from the Bagamati River Cleanup Campaign and visited riverbank areas, discussing possible sample collection. They then visited an informal scrap collection centre to conduct interviews on plastic collection and recycling issues. The team also visited EcoFoundation Nepal and the Doko Recyclers facility.

“The informal sector plays a crucial role in waste management for Nepal, but many of them are not recognised formally, even though they are performing essential services that the municipality doesn’t provide, such as recycling and picking waste where there is no formal collection. In addition, many of the estimated 15,000 informal waste workers working in Kathmandu Valley are women, but they are among the most marginalised in an already marginalised group,” remarked Sabrina. “We believe that there is an enormous untapped potential to increase the capacity of the informal waste sector by training and empowering women, as well as trying to formalise their work.”

The kick-off event, Workshop 1, was also attended by the Nepali Minister of Environment, the Norwegian Ambassador to Nepal, municipal representatives for waste management in Kathmandu Valley, and an inspirational entrepreneur. Björn Alfthan participated in a panel discussion on the role of informal waste workers and the importance of formalising their work, as well as the need for incentives to use recycled materials. Session two of the event was a workshop session for the waste workers, sharing their experiences and discussing the way forward for informal waste collection.

“GRID-Arendal has previously worked with the challenges women face in the informal waste sector in Nepal back in 2018,” said Björn. “There’s an untapped potential here where we can increase efficiency to collect higher volumes and, as a result, maximise recycling. This project wants to see whether we can increase the recycling of the “unrecyclable.”

The kick-off was covered by local media in Nepal:

1. https://www.lokpath.com/story/536106

2. https://nepalface.com/content/41156

3. https://ekarmachari.com/?p=23901

4. https://aarthikplus.com/2022/05/23/64388/

For more information about the project, please contact:

Björn Alfthan, Senior Expert, Polar and Climate (bjorn.alfthan@grida.no)

Sabrina Heerema, Polar Communications Officer (sabrina.heerema@grida.no)

Release date: 08 Jun 2022


GRID-Arendal's activities are nearly always a cooperative undertaking made possible through collaboration with partners and donors.

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