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Media’s role crucial in solid waste management: Experts

Staff Correspondent: Speakers at a meeting on Monday emphasized the critical role of the media in implementing the solid waste management road-map in Dhaka. The meeting, organized by Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK) under its Dhaka Calling Project, highlighted the importance of executing the four-point road-map to address the city’s waste management challenges.

The proposed road-map includes: Proper implementation of all solid waste management policies and commitments, both national and international. Halting the production and use of single-use plastics and imposing strict restrictions on the import of plastic raw materials. Implementing the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) program. Introducing a digital surveillance and monitoring system for waste management.

The meeting, held at the D-NET conference room in Mohammadpur, was chaired by senior journalist Nikhil Chandra Bhadra and moderated by Mahbul Haque, Director of Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP). Engr Abdus Sobhan, President of Environment and Climate Change Movement and former Additional Director General of the Department of Environment, attended as the chief guest. Special guests included Aminur Rasul, Joint General Secretary of BAPA, and Naira R Nizam, Strategic Media and Program Specialist of Counterpart International.

Ferdous Ahmed, project manager of BARCIK, presented a detailed power point presentation on the Dhaka Calling project. Journalists from various media outlets and representatives of marginalized communities participated in the meeting, with notable attendees including DSK Monitoring and Documentation Manager Jasmine Molly, and journalist leaders Rafiqul Islam Azad, Shakila Ruma, and Zahidul Islam.

In his speech, Engr Abdus Sobhan emphasized that Bangladesh has adequate laws for waste management but suffers from poor implementation. He remarked, “Solid waste management is crucial for our environment. The lack of proper waste management leads to numerous environmental issues.”

He urged the Ministry of Forests and Environment to take an integrated approach involving all relevant ministries and ensure accountability for their actions. “The media is vital in presenting these issues to the nation. We should initiate media awards and fellowships to encourage more media engagement,” he added.

Aminur Rasul highlighted the problematic lease system in waste management and called for a concerted effort to transform waste into resources. He stressed that the road-map would ensure the participation and rights of marginalized communities.

Hosne Ara Begum Rafeza, chairperson of the Bastibasi Odhikar Sukharka Committee, likened the need for a waste management road-map to administering the right medicine for a disease. She emphasized the significant role of journalists in bringing the plight of marginalized communities to national attention.

Speakers pointed out that Bangladesh, as one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia, faces escalating waste generation problems due to rapid urbanization. Over the past three decades, waste generation has quadrupled, and it is expected to reach 47,000 tons per day by 2025. On average, 55% of the waste generated in Dhaka remains uncollected, leading to overflowing landfills, public health risks, and environmental pollution. The absence of waste segregation and recycling at the source, combined with the increase in single-use plastics (SUP), has severely impacted the environment, especially the country’s river systems.

They noted that single-use plastics disrupt aquatic habitats, harm biodiversity, and enter food cycles, posing significant risks to human health and ecosystems.

Under the Promoting Advocacy and Rights (PAR) Program, supported by USAID and Counterpart International, the DSK Consortium (including DSK, BARCIK, CAP, and INSIGHTS) has worked to empower urban marginalized communities to advocate for inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable waste management practices through the Dhaka Calling project.

By leveraging media influence and engaging all stakeholders, the speakers believe that the solid waste management road-map can be effectively implemented to create a cleaner, healthier environment for Dhaka’s residents.

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