Indonesia: UNDP expands successful tsunami waste recycling project

1 June 2005, Banda Aceh: UNDP this week doubled the size of its Tsunami Waste Management Programme, following the success of the pilot established last month.

Under this programme, UNDP and its local government partners collect the waste dumped by the tsunami in Banda Aceh and sort it into materials which can be re-used, such as wood, rubble and organic matter. The tsunami left behind a quantity of waste equivalent to that generated by the city over 20 years, but some 70% of it is recyclable.

Working in partnership with the Banda Aceh Municipality Sanitation department (Dinas Kebersihan), the UNDP team has so far collected over 9,000 cubic metres of waste, from paddy fields and other areas, which are urgently needed by local communities.

The waste is then taken to the Kampung Jawa municipal dump, where another team of Cash for Work employees carefully removes all material that can be reused.

The project, which has been running as a pilot since early April, initially employed 250 people under UNDP's Cash for Work scheme, which pays tsunami survivors 30,000RP (3 USD) per day to do work such as rubble clearing.

Under this expansion, a further 250 will be employed and an additional 43 trucks and other items of heavy equipment brought in (the project already uses 55 trucks, bulldozers and other such equipment).

"These additional trucks and workers will enable us to clear more areas of the city, and clear them more quickly, enabling communities to reclaim the land that's currently buried under waste" said UNDP's Waste Management Advisor, Tim Walsh.

The work of sorting the waste is dirty and occasionally traumatic, as workers frequently find body parts and human bones amid the debris as well as ID cards of victims and family photo albums. Other finds have included wallets filled with cash: as the owners are untraceable and almost certainly dead, workers are allowed to split such finds between them.

The removed material, including wood that can be used for rebuilding and rubble suitable for reconstruction purposes, is currently being stored for use in upcoming UNDP projects. The rubble collected so far will be used to rebuild the road to Ulee Lheu port in Banda Aceh. UNDP is supporting the work of Provincial Transport department (Dinas Perhubungan) to reconstruct the port.

The organic waste is being turned into compost, and the wood stockpiled for reconstruction.

Site visits and interviews with Dr Tim Walsh can be arranged on request.

For further information, please contact :

Imogen Wall,, +62 (0)811 806 821 in Banda Aceh.
Mieke Kooistra,, +62 (0)21 314 0081, in Jakarta.
Sunny Lie,, +62 314 1308 ext. 721, in Jakarta.

Notes for Editors:

The Tsunami Waste Management Programme is part of the Emergency Relief and Transitional Recovery (ERTR) project, UNDP's 70 million USD response to the tsunami of 26 December 2004. The individual budget for this project is $850k.