Composting for environmental and economic reasons

June 28, 2013

More than 50 % of municipal solid waste generated in informal settlements in developing countries is biodegradable by composting. Although this is a very simple process, which delivers a great benefit for the economy and environment, it is not widespread in the developing world. Most of the big compost works set up in Africa, Asia and the Middle East in the 70s and 80s were only used for short periods of time, often there was a lack of adequate technology and staff training as well as problems with machine maintenance. Furthermore the build-up of odours, high operating costs and not knowing how to fight weeds and diseases caused by products was a big issue. Insufficient support from national and municipal governments was another factor that negatively influenced the usage of compost works.


In the 90s low-mechanized composting was supported by international agencies and urban organizations. There were various pilot schemes in Kenya, Indonesia, India and the Philippines and their results have demonstrated that composting helps to reduce waste, while the re-use of the composted material in farming is another advantage.


Waste and worms – a good team


Vermicomposting is the process of using worms and micro-organisms to turn waste into a black, earthy-smelling, nutrient-rich humus. Currently the University of Texas is realising a project in Santa Domingo where Vermicomposting is used to reduce solid waste. Due to an inadequate municipal solid waste management, residents are forced to deposit waste in open channels, where it blocks the flow of storm water. As a result, during periods of heavy rain, homes are often flooded by extremely polluted water. The project team expects that Vermicomposting can help to lessen the amount of organic waste deposited in channels, reduce water contamination, improve public health, and provide a source of income for women, who will direct the household- or neighbourhood-based project. The project covers the following areas:


1) Design and construction of vermicomposting bins using recycled materials


2) Site selection and preparation of bins


3) Pilot testing of the composting process


4) Evaluation of the process and products


5) Redesign as needed


In a parallel process, the community organization and NGO partners impart environmental knowledge to the locals and help them to establish distribution contracts. This is why a group of students have formalized relationships with the NGO FUNDSAZURZA and the City of Santo Domingo Norte, and assisted the community organization, Fundación Los Platanitos, with its institutional development.

Vineeta Manglani
Vineeta Manglani

Vineeta Manglani is Unit Director at the PR agency Sympra and responsible for international communication for the “empowering people. Award”. Vineeta was born in London and has been living and working in Germany for 21 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in German and Political Studies and a diploma in Journalism from the London School of Journalism.

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