The local government unit of Barangay Carmen and its partner institutions and agencies, both private and public, underwent a 3-day workshop that crafted its new 5-year Ecological Solid Waste Management Plan. This plan is compliant with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The workshop was facilitated by Balay Mindanaw’s CDO Team, led by Sabrina Garcia-Balais.
Barangay Carmen is among the biggest and most populous of the city’s barangays and has been a partner barangay of Balay Mindanaw since 2012. It hosts several schools, hospitals and business establishments. Carmen is the first among 80 barangays in Cagayan de Oro City to craft its own solid waste management plan. It is also the first to reconstitute its Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee (BSWMC). Barangay Carmen LGU initiated the workshop in an effort to address a myriad of issues arising from improper solid waste management.
The workshop was held at the Balay Mindanaw Peace Center on June 9-11 barely a week after Mayor Oscar S. Moreno, through Executive Order No. 063-15 signed on June 4, ordered the creation of BSWMC in each barangay which will implement proper waste segregation at source all over the city.
Barangay Carmen has one special feature which makes ecological solid waste management a challenge: it hosts the city’s open landfill, which is just a controlled dumpsite. Located in Upper Dagong, the landfill has been ordered closed by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) through the issuance of an Authority to Close (ATC) on June 2, 2010.
Despite this order, the city continues to dump its waste in the Upper Dagong landfill, which only has a capacity of 1.10 million cubic meters of garbage. At present, the landfill contains more than 4 million cubic meters of garbage, according to the Edgar Naguio, IEC officer of the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO).
The participants acknowledged that yet another challenge in waste management is Carmen Public Market, a major public market in the city, which is a major source of biodegradable wastes.
Biodegradable wastes are a great source of planting materials for home gardens. Even those without space for gardening in their homes in urban areas like Cagayan de Oro City can utilize the power of biodegradable wastes through Urban Container Gardening (UCG), said Richard S. Rejas of the Katilingbanong Pamahandi sa Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (KPMFI).
With this in mind, the workshop participants were able to identify issues that need to be addressed based on four factors: (1) the barangay’s internal capacities; (2) political will and coordination; (3) changing mindsets; and (4) disaster management and risk reduction. They were also able to come up with the actual 5-Year BSWM Plan and the composition of a reconstituted BSWMC, its vision, mission, and goals in consonance with RA 9003.
Solid waste management is a complex issue. Thus, to properly address it, BSWM Plans should at least address cultural issues on solid waste management, personal and cultural values, networking and linkages, and livelihood, among others.
Thomas Kellenberger, founder and primemover of the non-government organization Philippine Island Kids Foundation, Inc., said that solid waste is “a great paradox.”
“Mohatag kini og kinabuhi pero mokuha pud kini og kinabuhi,” said the Swiss who has been helping children of scavenger families in the landfill for years now.
The participants also visited Barangay Gusa and Barangay Lapasan to learn first-hand from these two barangays’ experiences in solid waste management.
Improper management of solid waste is not only a problem in Carmen, Gusa and Lapasan, but also of the entire city.
The CLENRO admitted that the flooding that occurs in some areas of the city when there is a downpour is due to drainage clogged with recyclables such as plastics, cellophanes, etc.
CLENRO also acknowledged that Cagayan de Oro City is a non-compliant city to RA 9003 because of such factors as (1) “leaders do not understand the law;” and (2) “leaders are not interested in implementing the law.”
Finally, CLENRO expressed gratefulness to the leaders of Barangay Carmen and Balay Mindanaw for initiating the workshop, the first-ever barangay-based solid waste management planning workshop to happen in the city in decades.
“Solid waste management is not impossible especially if we have the heart to really make a difference,” Naguio said.
A week after the workshop, the newly organized Barangay Ecological Solid Waste Management Committe (BESWMC) of Brgy Carmen was able to convene an expanded multi-sectoral group of around 80 people. They too, gave their thoughts, suggestions and commitment for an effective implementation of the plan. The month of July will be dedicated for a sitio based Information, Education Campaign on Waste Segregation and Reduction. (Bong D. Fabe, with reports from Sabrina Garcia-Balais)