Habitat Observatory

    Community Participation through Self Help School Construction Programme
    Gahkuch is an extremely backward area located in the Ghizer district of North Pakistan. Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has been working for the social and economic upliftment of the communities in this area for many years. Using the Self-Help School Construction Programme (SHSCP), an Aga Khan Higher Secondary School (AKHSS) was constructed at Gahkuch. The purpose of adopting the SHSCP approach was to maximize access to good quality secondary education for local children especially girls using a community participatory approach.

While Aga Khan Planning and Building Service (AKPBSP), an AKDN institution, provided the technical assistance for constructing the school, the community played a major role in providing land, unskilled labor and indigenous building materials. Taking into account the seismic nature of the region, the school was designed to be earthquake resistant in consultation with the local stakeholders.

The design of the school is a fusion of modern architecture with local vernacular elements. The result is a building which has provided a conducive learning environment for the students. AKHSS-Gahkuch comprises six classrooms, an examination hall, four science laboratories, a computer room, an administration block and a detached lavatory block for both boys and girls. The school building through its appropriate orientation responds to climate extremes of temperature. Traditional and modern ventilation techniques such as sky light and double framed glazed windows have been installed for thermal comfort. The most innovative aspect of the design is the built in air gap insulation in the exterior walls along with the use of natural granite stones.

Training of local masons and contractors in this project has helped in the revival of traditional building techniques and introduced a new and unconventional method of safe engineered construction. It has also helped in promoting a sustainable development approach for the progress of the community.

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    Community-based Approaches for Solid Waste Management
  Sri Jayawardenpura Kotte - the administrative capital of Sri Lanka faced increase in solid waste generation due to rapid urbanisation and shift of Sri Lanka’s administrative capital from Colombo to Jayawardenpura Kotte. In 2009 under the support of UN-HABITAT and UNDP ‘Sustainable Cities Program’ (SCP) was launched in the Sri Jayewardenpura Kotte Municipal Council (SJKMC).

SJKMC experimented with innovative and participatory approaches based on new technologies and methodologies. The process began with profiling status of the city’s environment. The profile highlighted inadequate solid waste management as a major environmental hazard to the city.

‘SEVANTAHA’, a partner NGO provided technical guidance to SJKMC. A sustainable mix of solutions was introduced. The concept of ’waste is money - a resource’ was the key driver. The project experimented with household level separation and composting of waste. Almost 2000 households were covered. The recycling and viability of generating biogas out of market waste was also explored. A community-managed waste separation centre was set up to promote recycling of waste.

This pilot project successfully demonstrated that composting is a sustainable method of solid waste management. The field achievements and the consequent capacity development of the municipal council resulted in the SJKMC becoming the first local authority in Sri Lanka to develop a citywide integrated solid waste management strategy with a long term vision. The strategy proposed to employ a multi-pronged approach that revolves round the ‘4R’ participatory principle of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Reject. It covers all activities pertaining to the control, transfer, transport, processing and disposal of residual solid waste in accordance with best principles and practices of public health, economics, engineering, conservation and aesthetics.

Promotion of home-based composting in Sri Jayewardenpura Kotte has attracted new partners from the private sector in the city. Large scale private sector manufacturers have entered the market to produce compost bins. The progress in the project shows that the prospects of sustainability of such solid waste management practices are very high. The project sustained more on local resources and the highlight was the partnership approach between the local government and the community. The approach used in Sri Jayewardenpura Kotte Municipal Council can be a model for other cities in the developing world to address their solid waste management problems.

Partners: UN-Habitat, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, MaRGG (Management Resources for Good Governance), SEVANATHA Urban Resource Centre. Activity brief – development of an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan for Kotte Municipal Council.

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