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Blogs / Professional Fellows Exchange Program / Action Plan: Promoting Citizen Engagement in City Waste Management

Action Plan: Promoting Citizen Engagement in City Waste Management

Seila Sar, Cambodia

Organizing Grantee: ICMA

YSEALI Theme: Environmental Sustainability

Host: City of Albany, OR


Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, is home to about 2.2 million population. Rapid urbanization and population growth create a big challenge on waste management. The amount of waste entering the landfill daily has increased from approximately 800 tons per day in 2009, to 1,475 tons per day in 2014, with some forecasts estimating that this will increase to 2,000 tons per day by 2015. It was estimated that approximately 100-200 tons of waste remain uncollected daily in Phnom Penh. A number of problems with collection mean that large amounts of waste are not collected in areas meant to receive service, with piles of garbage thus frequently building up. In addition, the waste is not well sorted and is generally disposed as a bulk. People do not pack it properly and do not dispose it at designated point. This poor waste management poses a great challenge to the health and environment of the people living in Phnom Penh.

The situation in the City of Albany, OR is so different from that in Phnom Penh. In Albany, people are really well educated and aware of the impacts of improper waste disposal and the good system is already in place. They have strict regulations on waste disposal and responsible company to take care of the waste operating at a very high standard. The landfill is well management and they have different bins for different types of waste. They also have recycling facility in place which could convert household waste into consumables with approximately 50% recovery rate. In addition, there is a program which people could get an incentive of 5 cents if they recycle a can or a plastic bottle after used. More importantly, they also have a public recycling deport where people could dispose special waste such as motor oil, e-waste, and other big size waste. While in Cambodia, we don’t have all those great systems in place including recycling facility. In addition, people are not well educated and not fully aware of the negative impact of improper waste disposal and thus throwing their household waste all over the place and not properly packed. In Cambodia, we don’t have enough waste bins and people need to dispose their waste at their designated collective points. A recent Phnom Pend representative public perception survey reported that about 50% of the respondents said that waste management in the city is the sole responsibility of the waste collection company and the city hall and there is nothing to do with the citizen. Therefore, to improve the condition of the waste management in Phnom Penh, we need to start from the scratch by raising public awareness on negative impacts of poor waste management and engage people in the city waste management process before we can think of recycling facility and it is the goal of this action plan. People will be informed and encouraged to engage in waste management process through workshops, door-to-door extension, and campaigning.  

We will need to produce fact sheets, pamphlets, posters, and Facebook page to inform people about our project. Public meeting with stakeholders and local people will be conducted to make sure that their concerns on waste management are well understood and considered. We will also conduct focus group discussions with stakeholders and local citizens to obtain their inputs, feedback and consensus from stakeholders working on waste management and city planning, and local people will be obtained to ensure that their inputs and advices are incorporated into the decisions in each stage of planning.

This project consists of three steps:

  1. After understanding the context and the issues around waste management, workshop will be provided to a group of people including heads of village and commune, local authorities, and other stakeholders on the impact of improper waste disposal and how to engage people in the waste management process. This group will be the core team to disseminate the information to their local communities and plays a very important role in engaging people in this process.  
  2. A group of volunteers/hired freelancers will be educated on the impact of improper waste disposal and how to properly pack and dispose the waste. After the training, this team will conduct door to door extension to educate people on the issues around waste management and transfer their knowledge on proper waste disposal to the local people.
  3. Conducting one day campaign to promote proper waste disposal and local community engagement in city waste management. A television spot promoting proper waste disposal will be produced and broadcasted if there is enough funding.

The ultimate goal of this project is to mainly change the behaviour of local people to practice proper waste disposal before planning for the next stop which is recycling. The long-term positive impact of this project is a clean and liveable Phnom Penh.


Laura Hagg
Laura Hagg said

Great action plan - can't wait to hear more!

Tram Bui
Tram Bui said

It's such a thorough action plan in raising awareness of people, Seila. I just have a question that why dont you include students (from primary, secondary and high schools) in your plan? I think those students will play an important role in sharing knowledge of proper waste disposal.


great plan!! I really love this article


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