Vision * "A self reliant Dzongkhag co-existing in peace and harmony with enhanced socio-economic standards, rich natural resources and cultural heritage" * Mission * “To enhance rural livelihood with good local governance in line with culture and environment” * དམིགས་དོན་གཅོད་པ། * ཕན་བདེ་བརྟན་རྒྱས་ལྡན་པའི་ས་གནས་གཞུང་གིས་ལམ་སྲོལ་དང་རང་བཞིན་རྒྱུ་ཁུངས་གཉིས་དང་བསྟུན་གྲོང་གསེབ་འཚོ་བའི་ཐུན་རྐྱེན་གོང་འཕེལ་གཏང་ནི། * འཆར་སྣང་བསམ་གྲུབ་ལྗོངས་མཁར། * རྒྱུན་བརྟན་རང་འདྲོངས་ཅན་དང་ཞི་བདེ་མཐུན་བསྒྲིག་མཉམ་དུ་གནས་ཏེ་མི་སྡེ་དཔལ་འབྱོར་གྱི་གནས་ཚད་ཡར་འཕར་སོང་བའི་རང་བཞིན་ཐོན་སྐྱེད་ཀྱི་འབྱོར་པ་དང་ལམ་སྲོལ་རྒྱུད་བཟང་ལྡན་པའི་ལྗོངས་སུ་བསྒྲགས་ནི།

E-Waste Awareness Program

 

Introduction

Bhutan is one of the world’s fastest developing economies, rapidly experiencing both the benefits and drawbacks of economic development. One of the most visible and problematic drawbacks of development is the dramatic increase in material waste production, coupled with, and exacerbated by, growing rates of rural to urban migration and consumerism.

Out of four categorized kinds of waste in Bhutan, e-waste is recognized as major challenge and the hazardous in future which will have adverse effects to the environment and human health. It is not at a scale which is tormenting, but it will be a big predicament in future if we don’t address now. A country like Bhutan cannot afford to have its own e-waste disposal sites/recycling plant for many years to come, except municipal waste which is also not managed properly by looking at current scenario.

Guided by the philosophy of “Gross National Happiness”, environmental conservation is one of the pillars of GNH, and Bhutan is committed to environmentally sustainable development. But now with an increasing population, changes in culture, life style, booming technology and economy, Bhutan is beginning to face the waste management challenges like many other countries in the world.

 

Overall objectives

  1. To raise awareness among the development actors at Chiwog, Gewog and Dzongkhag levels regarding environmentally sound e-waste management;
  2. To establish an e-waste collection system in Gewogs and Dzongkhag levels;
  3. To instill zero waste ethos among the development actors.

With Bhutanese becoming wealthier and technology getting cheaper at the same time, the use of electronic equipment is increasing radically every year. This will continue with the government’s plan to turn Bhutan into an information technology (IT) center and its people into a modern knowledge-based society. As a consequence, in the years to come, e-waste will overflow if we fail to act now.

The Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag in collaboration with the Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI), conducted an educational program on e-waste management in line with the Zero Waste principles. The program was held in the following places:

  1. Dzongkhag head quarter, covering Dewathang, Orong, Gomdar and Wangphu gewogs, Gomdar CS, Orong CS, Garpawoong MSS including sector and the regional heads (11/4/2016);
  2. Samdrupcholing Dungkhag, covering Phuntshothang, Pemathang, Martshalla and Samrang including school principals and Dungkhag staff (14/4/2016); and
  3. Jomotsangkha Dungkhag, covering Langchenphu, Serthi and Lauri gewogs including school principals and the Dungkhag staff (18/4/2016).

The program was attended by the various development actors; Dasho Drangpons, Sector and Regional Heads, Gups, Gewog Administrative Officers and other Gewog staffs, School Principals and ICT Focals, RNR staff and the Royal Bhutan Police.

Some of the key components that were presented during the awareness program was:

  1. What is an E-waste;
  2. Sources of e-wastes;
  3. Components of e-wastes;
  4. Effects of e-wastes to environment and human health;
  5. Why E-waste Management;
  6. Videos on e-waste management; and
  7. Overall waste management guidelines with focus on principles of 5Rs by relating to individual life style.

The Dzongkhag informed the participants that, at present there is no concrete solution to deal with e-waste at national level and moreover there is no storage facility in place at Gewog and the Dzongkhag levels. It was also added, once the Dzongkhag establish a system of e-waste collection, it will be sent to the Department of National Property, which will be then handed over to Department of Information and Technology for the final disposal in India. In general, understanding on e-waste was very poor even among the literate group and also with the people living in the urban areas. The awareness program has helped in making people understand about the e-waste and overall waste management system and practices as follows;

  1. Types of categorized waste in Bhutan;
  2. Ill effects of burning and dumping;
  3. Waste segregation;
  4. Material Recovery Facility; and
  5. Principles of 5Rs.

The participants were also made to calculate their own carbon footprint (The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community) to internalize zero waste ethos at an individual level.

The Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI) also shared some of its best practices on zero waste management system as follows:

  1. Zero waste committee and the trainers;
  2. Community waste fund;
  3. Zero waste craft group;
  4. Zero waste events;
  5. Knowledge products;
  6. Zero waste tshog offerings;
  7. Waste segregation;
  8. Material Recovery Facility and model waste reducers;
  9. Model villages and schools; and
  10. Exhibition of zero waste craft products.

According to the feedback collected from participants, awareness program was rated very effective, except it could have been more practical by letting participants to visit dumpsite, landfill and some practical sessions like making them to segregate different kinds of waste found in their respective areas. Some of the participants also requested for more similar kind of trainings in future to bring change in behavior which requires time.

 

Conclusion

Unlike in urban areas, villages produces less e- waste as well as solid waste, but the risk is, they don’t have a system in place which may lead to dumping and burning of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, thus leading to air, water and the soil contamination and also creating risk to human and animal health. Through this awareness program, Dzongkhag expects to see people becoming more conscious of choices they make, ethically and economically, as well as becoming more sensitive with waste that they see in the community.

It is also expected that people will now at least separate their e-waste from other waste and store separately until collection system is put in place by the concern authorities (gewogs and Dzongkhag). Local leaders are also expected to become more efficient and visionary in guiding their people and practice in order to emulate sustainable natural cycles.

  

Cheku
Zero-Waste Program Coordinator
Samdrup JOngkhar Initiative

   
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