Waste Management in San Antonio del Tequendama-Cundinamarca
© Santacruz Zoological Foundation
To design and implement a management system for waste and sustainable water use in Colombia
The local government of the community of San Antonio del Tequendama (Cundinamarca-Colombia) hasn’t provided a collection system for their waste (organic and inorganic) for years. That is why the people, including the local schools, employed an alternative way for the disposal of daily, produced garbage. The waste was burned under the open sky, thrown into water resources or left in open areas including forests. This project aims to display a solution for environmental problems in local communities by providing healthy, cheap and easy techniques which minimize the negative impact of those communities surrounded by forests. This way we can indirectly protect and conserve forest areas and their biodiversity.
In 2004 the Education Department of the Santacruz Zoological Foundation started a project with 17 local schools that had an average of 1,200 students between 5 to 12 years old. The project consists of an education program about waste management and water resources conservation.
During those five years of work, some of the students involved from the start moved to the high school. Therefore we began to include working with high schools as well, and these students are able to continue their involvement in the project. We are working now with more than 3000 students in the complete area of San Antonio del Tequendama.
As of today there are 17 inorganic waste disposal areas, built with specific technical materials. In these areas the children and the teachers can now dispose of all recyclable material. Most of this material is reused in different school activities, e.g. recycled paper, Christmas and Halloween decoration. The organic waste is disposed in earthworm areas, where the kids learn how to use the organic fertilizer for their own horticulture organic farm projects.
With the products gained from the disposal areas (Humus, and recycled material), each school has established its own sustainable project called Green Products “Mercados verdes”. These projects promote new sustainable techniques of agriculture to local enterprises and aims to encourage the local population to remain in their home towns and not to migrate to big cities. Some products gained from these projects are e.g. fruits, flowers, plants for medical infusions, vegetables, and also humus and recycled material which are now merchandised in local markets.
Starting the project has in turn stimulated other projects, e.g. a theater performance with the Environmental Theatre Group, who did a play about the importance of humans for the protection of our environment.
With the Conservation of Water Resources project we improve different systems of rain water collectors. This water is used for cleaning and for toilet flushing. We created water saving systems for bathrooms at schools and homes in communities. These systems have been controlled by measuring the water quantity collected and saved in each house and school involved in the project.
All our activities have been improved by educational programs that also include different workshops for the community, students and teachers, as well as scientific and cultural events. In addition material has been presented to all people involved in the projects.
We have been involved in different governmental meetings during the project which helped to improve the sustainable development in the towns. Once a month, the local government visits the schools and collects all remaining recyclables. In addition, all illegal waste dumps have disappeared. Members of the project are working on the formulation of the Development Plan for 2008-2011 created by the new mayor.
In these 5 years since the project has been implemented, it has grown into an important exercise for the community, governmental and educational institutions. We have received fundraising support from national government, local government and private companies. Combined with this, a substantial effort is being made to provide an alternative life for the children.
The Santacruz Zoological Foundation’s efforts continue. The project is currently being implemented in 3 areas, and a change of attitude is already visible, which is the most important result of this work. The project is now part of the student’s life and they can learn new skills and participate in social activities.
WAZA Conservation Project 09005 is implemented by the Santacruz Zoological Foundation (Colombia), and supported by private institutions as e.g. EMGESA, and the government of the region.
> to project overview
© Santacruz Zoological Foundation