Saturday, August 17, 2013

BioGas as a core solution to SWM plague?

Well that is the contention that Vivekananda organization took, especially in Kanyakumari: check the technical and implementation aspects, various home models as well as small communities ones:

Vasudevi and Ramakrishnan have been so kind to me when I came to visit them.
I had met Vasudevi one year ago in Amritapuri and we had discussed in situ various solutions that we were developing in the ashram as well as university side.

What an office: feels like it was designed and painted by Dali!

At the time Divine Mother was not very much in favor of my going and traveling to visit projects around India, or even to start pilots in neighboring villages.
This time, like a teenager running away from home, I did not ask for any body's permission, and I was enjoying total freedom in this spiritual/waste management trip in South India: Kanyakumari combining Biogas for village homes along with Vivekananda 150th Anniversary celebrations, Gandhi’s ashes in the 3 oceans, as well as the pleasure of steady heat, new landscapes and uses in Tamil Nadu.

Ramakrishnan took me on his motorbike to visit the training center used for external people, mostly giving them basis in Biogas implementation and maintenance.

What a great way to start the empirical part of the PhD, on a motorbike, with very open and kind village people.

Yet in terms of scale can man consider biogas a success with 3000 implementations over 25 years, 120 installations per year, a small village in India… every year.

I was left with mixed feelings.

Some mix of biogas and vermicompost in this home on the right

Of course Biogas was part of the solution, in villages as well as in cities… but definitely not THE solution.

How beautiful is this way of eating, which 10 years ago was still allowing everything to be thrown in the streets and recycled, or at least biodegraded.

Just as well as Shulab toilets had been a success in so far as people were using it (up to a few millions indians are using it now),  in so much as toilets was better than no toilets, defecation in the bushes, on the beaches…
So basically in the community engagement part Shulab had been a great success. But many experts, especially technical ones agree that the Shulab technology is not the best one if not a failure.
And Shulab Intl people seem to refuse to collaborate to improve these technical aspects that would make the Shulab toilets much more efficient and with greater impact, than the great political contacts that this organization has achieved in India, hence their high level of implementation.

So here is my opinion on how solutions in SWM could be mixed:
1st: better basic tech than high tech: cheap, easy to implement, to run, to maintain, scalable, replicable…
2nd: like in medicine: for many diseases, the best holistic approach should start with allopathy, then trying various holistic approaches: in my case Ayurveda worked miracles after clear diagnosis from Allopathy, and probably healed me of gal bladder pre-cancer
Just as well as sophrology was the best tool I found against stress.
But medication is as well compulsory in some cases and did save my life too.
Extremism in any of these approaches leads only to lack of openness and I believe, to failure.

So back to our case of SWM: lets consider SW as the illness or symptoms of modern society.

Allopathy could be the core municipality solutions: enforcement of SWM and segregation in homes, collections of segregated waste in situ (DtD at home/business/corporates/ hazardous waste like Medical waste…), sweeping streets, collection and disposal of waste according to their category, treatment of waste (recycling, composting, dumping, incineration…).
In each of these steps, processes we can introduce some degree of holistic approaches:
At the initial stage of waste generation: reduction of generation, lobbying against growing packaging, campaigns of awareness for segregation as well as cleaning in public space, CBO and NGO’s engagement to reduce and segregate waste, train their communities, informal sector especially for recycling helped and secured… organic composting for rural areas, outskirts of towns… individual biogas installations according to needs and size of homes, along with biomass plants for bigger organizations…

Here are the Chinese/Ayurveda/Acupuncture/Sophrology solutions that we can add to... lets say a 60% of municipal state allopathic therapy.

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