Participatory approaches as drivers for sustainable waste management in ruralnepal
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Nepal has been facing waste management problems for a long time. This is especially true for cities, but also increasingly for rural areas. Improper treatment, lack of organization and management of solid waste (SW), contributes to pollution and toxic emissions, which inflict harm to both the human health and the environment. This study responds to the question on how solid waste management systems (SWMS) in rural areas of Nepal can be improved. Rural regions of Nepal are dealing with profound sustainability challenges related among others to the rapid expansion of tourism and fast changing infrastructure. The theory part of the study discusses SWMS and related terminology and concepts and investigates SWMS practices in Nepal, both on a general basis and in a rural mountainous region. Literature shows deficiencies of the entire SWMS in Nepal, for example in form of inadequate communication between the government and local stakeholders, including the lack of participation possibilities for managing waste in residential areas. In rural mountainous areas, frequently visited by tourists, a huge waste problem is the lack of waste bins. This problem is met practically by applying a participatory design approach (PDA) for designing a waste bin with residents and local stakeholders. The waste bin solution is functional, sustainable, and contextualized for a village in Lower Mustang, Annapurna Region, Nepal. The aim of the study was twofold, to make a feasible solution and to create awareness among designers, local stakeholders, and decision-makers about the current situation, including more systemic design possibilities for future development. The project/practice part contains field research within SWMS in rural areas of Nepal by applying PDA and other design tools/methods. Primary research, data collection and investigation are conducted by visiting the designated location, including other nearby affected areas. The project is part of a Nepal – Norway collaboration (SAMAJ) which exchanges Master students from design and planning from both countries. The goal of the SAMAJ project is to meet the SDGs with help of sustainable design for everyday and in different cultural settings. Applying insights from theory concepts in a real-life settings allows students among others to apply and test participatory design methods, and understand the divergence of design theory and practice.