The non-profit CHF India has been operating in India for roughly 11 years. The organization primarily works with urban poor areas in several cities, enlisting locals in participatory waste management and sanitation initiatives. A business entity approached CHF for assistance in developing an innovative solid waste management initiative and this is where CHF’s community-led solid waste management spun off. It took off in Pune, a slum neighborhood with available land, and hired women to lead the effort in solid-waste management. Fortunately, the approach has been replicated in three additional locations in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Koregaeon Bhima in Maharashtra. This story focuses on Koregaon Bhima and discusses its work, methodology, and the approach it applies to promote sustainable waste management in the city.
3 out of the 5 design principles of the Co-cities methodology are highlighted in Koregaon Bhima’s project.
Collective governance was rated strong in Koregaon because between 3-4 actors were involved in the initiative as the Quintuple helix suggests by scholar, Carayannis and later by Foster & Iaione in their study of polycentrism. The project was initiated and funded by a corporation and implemented by a non-profit organization.
The case of Koregaon Bhima represents an intriguing blend of urban and rural characteristics. It is officially recognized as a “census town” by the Census of India, implying urban features, but lacks formal government recognition as a town. As a result, the state government treats it as a village, maintaining a rural local government (panchayat) rather than a municipal board. This unique administrative status has proven advantageous for the CHF project. Working with the panchayat has been more accessible than dealing with municipal corporations, and it has allowed for changing local habits and educating officials about solid waste management in preparation for future municipal governance. Additionally, the project benefited from the federal Swachcha Bharat Abhiyan, which incentivizes corporate donations to sanitation efforts. Despite no public funds being invested, this project is classified as Moderate on the Enabling State principle.
Regarding social and economic pooling, the project demonstrates moderate pooling within the communities where it operates. CHF’s intention is to empower community residents to continue the project without direct involvement. While the success in Koregaon Bhima is still uncertain, Pune, where a similar approach was taken, has shown promise. Community residents took ownership and continued the project when corporate funding decreased, and CHF withdrew. Thus, the project rates as Moderate on the Pooling design principle.
In terms of experimentalism, the project is not particularly innovative on its own. Household-level recycling and composting have long been practiced in rural India. Although the community-led approach is commendable for urbanizing areas with limited local government resources, it is not considered highly experimental. This project is rated as Weak in Experimentalism.
Lastly, regarding tech justice, technology did not play a role in this project, as indicated in the interview with CHF.