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Friday, April 29, 2011

Proper waste disposal in Manila intensified again

The Philippine government has intensified its waste segregation campaign by issuing 5,000 copies of easy-to-understand information and education campaign materials particularly now that children are on two-month school vacation.
Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources appealed to parents yesterday that because kids are taught by their teachers throughout the year, now is the best time that they educate their children on the proper segregation of household waste, the Manila Bulletin said.
Paje said, "In fact, parents or the older children could come up with creative ways to make waste segregation fun and even income-generating by selling collected empty bottles and old newspapers and magazines to the neighborhood junk shop."
While this may seem a nice approach by the DENR, I think it needs sustainability. We have had so many campaigns in the past not only for this issue but also for environmental awareness advocacies like anti-dengue and fire prevention drives. But the environmental and health problems are still there because the programs designed to solve them lack sustainability.
The waste disposal advocacy looks good in print but I believe that it assumes that parents know how to segregate waste themselves. What if the parents do not know? And obviously, they do not know because if they do know, what is the need for this drive?
I think before teaching the children, the people who will teach them must know first. And this should not only be done during school vacation. It must be done as a part of life. A lifestyle.
In Manila, the air is polluted not only with dust but also by high levels of mercury. I clean my own air-conditioned room at least three times a day just to get rid of dust.
Comic materials may be good but I say they are not the best method to teach these days. Do the majority of Filipinos like to read? Yes you may say because you are reading this but I ask you, what about the vast majority of people in the slum areas?
There must be some ways other than reading materials that must be used to penetrate the huge fraction of the population who surely do not know how to read.
Another important thing is the garbage collection. I am lucky that in the city where I live, our wastes are collected every morning. But what about in the other areas? At the back of my place many people live in shanties amid a polluted river. Mosquitoes feast on our blood every day and night.
What are the concerned departments doing about it?
The issue cannot be done by one sector alone but at least the DENR initiated, again. Obviously, a multi-sectoral approach is necessary—the education, environment and health departments as well as the local governments including the village, etc.
This is just a tip-of-the-iceberg evaluation that may help Manila become an environment-friendly and a healthy city.
Details of this report here.

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