South-South Knowledge Exchange Program on Sustainable Solid Waste Management between Vientiane and Pune Municipal Cooperation

Pune, India, March 2-6 – A delegation of 13 officials from Vientiane, Lao PDR headed by Mr.  Bounchanh Keosithamma, Director General of Vientiane Capital Office for Management and Service (VCOMS), arrived in Pune, India to learn about award-winning practices in decentralized waste collection services and waste-to-resource initiatives by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in collaboration with SWaCH, a waste pickers’ cooperative.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) facilitated this knowledge exchange program with an aim to provide hands-on experiences and technical guidance to the project implementation unit (PIU) composed of VCOMS, district governments, and heads of villages, responsible for a sustainable solid waste management project in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

The program kicked started with sharing waste management challenges faced by VCOMS and overall strategy of municipal solid waste management by PMC. During the site visits, the Laos delegation had an opportunity to closely observe how door-to-door collection and source separation were delivered in coordination between waste pickers and PMC waste collection trucks.

“It was inspirational to witness how PMC has fully integrated informal waste pickers into their municipal solid waste management system. This system not only increases the waste collection coverage but also the dignity of the waste pickers by giving them social recognition as key service providers in municipal solid waste management” said Shomi Kim, Senior Green Cities Analyst.

The delegation paid a visit to waste-to-resource facilities and initiatives operated by SWaCH, which includes: i) material recovery centers, ii) V-collect where donated recyclable materials are repaired and reused, and iii) the innovation center where HDPE are upcycled for higher value products. They also participated in the raising awareness campaign for source separation demonstrated by SWaCH members.

The site visits also included decentralized & centralized waste treatment systems such as organic waste composting facility, bio-gas plants and refused derived fuel (RDF) facility established by PMC in collaboration with private sector operators.

“I have gained a number of practical ideas that can be replicated in the city of Vientiane. I will ensure that what we learned through this program will be implemented in our city” said Mr.  Bounchanh Keosithamma, Director General of VCOMS.

On the last day of the program, the Laos delegation presented project ideas and proposals based on the insights obtained from this visit at the debriefing session with the presence of PMC and SWaCH staff.

“I am delighted to receive the delegation from Lao PDR and fully support continuing efforts for city-to-city cooperation to achieve the universal goals of sustainable waste management service provision” said Mr. Shekhar Gaikwad, Commissioner of PMC.

This program was conducted by the GGGI Lao PDR team as part of the Wastewater and Solid Waste Treatment Capacity Building Project for City Environment Improvement in Vientiane Capital and Pakse City, funded by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).