The rapid growth in population and strong waves of migration in cities leads to the increase in the volume of waste generation in big cities of Vietnam. The expenditures of limited budget into environmental solutions and the need in seeking for clean land funds to build up waste treatment zones are always the most difficult problems challenges to city leaders.

In the period of 2002-2006, under the financial supports of UE-AEP and Cordaid, Enda Vietnam conducted projects of waste sorting at source, supporting independent waste collectors and scavengers and waste management in District 5 and District 6, Ho Chi Minh City and Quy Nhon City in the aim at joining its hands in supporting cities cut down their budgets and save some of land funds for waste treatments. These projects were exactly the first steps of Enda Vietnam in the field of waste management and environmental protection.

The program of “Pro-poor and sustainable solid waste management in secondary cities and small towns” funded by United Nation-Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), has been conducted in Quy Nhon city as a pilot project since 2005. It was replicated in Kontum in 2012. The project focused on collection, sorting and treating of municipal solid waste in community to recycle the waste, to produce compost, to reduce transportation cost of huge volume of municipal waste as well as to reduce overloading of the city landfills. During the project phase, two Integrated Resource Recovery Centers (IRRCs) were built up in order to maximally make use of available organic waste in two selected cities. The effective operation of IRRCs has proven to change the community attitudes and behaviors on waste which is become our resource. Up to now, with the enthusiasm of local stakeholders, especially local municipal leaders, waste segregation at source program has been well implemented and expanded to non-households and households in the whole city of Quy Nhon.

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Worker is sorting organic waste before composting

In Ho Chi Minh City, the project “Towards better social inclusion and protection to informal waste collectors and recyclers” started in 2011 with the support of the European Commission (EC). The project’s aim is to build the capacity of local stakeholders, to provide direct support and to conduct advocacy for better working conditions and access to public services for independent waste collectors.

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A female independent waste collector in HCMC

In both projects, waste sorting and applying of 3R (Reduce-Recycle-Reused) are considered as project strategic activities to sustainably achieve the project objectives. These programs have same key activities: waste sorting at the source and improvement of the working conditions of Independent Waste Collectors (IWCs). This UNESCAP project can provide a good model for IWCs in suburban areas to start businesses based on composting organic waste. The results of studies and advocacy activities from IWCs as well as experience on advocacy can be transferred to these 2 programs.  The idea is to set up a network of IWCs in Vietnam to enhance their voice and turn them into socially and officially accepted professionals of waste collection and recycling.

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