Estabilishing a solid waste disposal pit in Debre Tabor, Ethiopia - A project by final year medical students of Debre Tabor University to reduce open waste disposal and improve environmental sanitation
Debre Tabor University
The graduating class of medicine at Debre Tabor University in 2021 took the initiative to serve the community of Debre Tabor by establishing the first well-constructed solid waste disposal pit in the town of Debre Tabor, Ethiopia, in the hopes to address the challenge of solid waste management. It’s our belief that improper disposal of municipal solid waste can create unsanitary conditions to the environment which in turn can lead to pollution of the land and nearby water sources and accelerate outbreaks of vector-borne disease—that is, diseases spread by rodents and insects. Debre Tabor, Kebele 4 has approximately 13,850 inhabitants and this dense concentration of people leads to a substantial amount of waste generation especially in densely populated places like Arada village where residents still practice open damping of solid waste impairing the cleanliness and over all environmental health of the community. Largely populated areas are more susceptible to health risks as disease can be spread here quickly. As final year medical students practicing in a developing country we see the drastic consequences of infectious diseases where the main causation can be related to poor personal and environmental hygiene, in order to mitigate this problem we took it upon ourselves to design a project and communicate with different stakeholders including our University and the Mayor’s office to make this project a success. This construction is intended to serve for 2 years the community of Kebele 2, 3, 4, and 5 in Debre tabor town where roughly 36,000 people reside. We plan to close the pit after its filled and turn it into a tree plantation area so it can continue to serve the community and the Environment as a whole
To achieve this goal first a project proposal was drafted by medical students, and the proposal was commented and edited by supervisors. Subsequently, the final version was written and submitted to the college of health science and site selection for the construction of solid waste disposal waste was under taken with Environmental health experts of the town after attaining permission of the project and land permit from the local administration. Next we contacted stake holders in order to obtain material and financial support from Farta wereda administrative office, Kebele leaders , Woreda health office, Debre tabor University,and other governmental and non- governmental organizations as well as the local community who actively participated in this project . The estimated overall cost of the project was valued at 800,000 Ethiopian birr (17,000 USD) which entails cost of labor force, heavy machines like loader and excavator, a fence construction material including metals, nails and wood and others. Finally the construction of a solid waste disposal pit covering an area of 120 M2 outside of the main town was constructed
The construction of an appropriate waste disposal pit covering an area of 120 M2 has enhanced the environmental sanitation and promote the health of the community members. Within its 2 months of construction it has become a regular site of solid waste collection site for the town and their is visibly less trash and rubbish in open places than the previous. We believe this good practice will provide a better life on land and improve the sanitation of the community in line with the sustainable development goals of the United nations. This project has taught us that as medical students to follow a holistic approach where we address not only the disease but its causality and it's public health aspect and help in the prevention of communicable diseases. This construction is intended to serve the community of Kebele 2, 3, 4, and 5 in Debre tabor town where roughly 36,000 people reside for a minimum of 2 years . We plan to close the pit after its filled and turn it into a tree plantation area so it can continue to serve the community and the Environment as a whole.
Some of the enabling factors that made our project a reality came from Debre Tabor University which supported our project starting from forming links to private construction companies which provided us with heavy machinery like excavators and loaders and providing material support needed for the construction of the solid waste disposal pit such as sand, stone, wood and nails. The local administration also enabled this project by granting land permit for the site of construction. some of the limiting factors we have faced include shortage of fuel to run the heavy machinery and lack of temporary storage site for the maerials needed for construction.
To assure sustainability of this project the quality assurance of materials used for construction was checked prior to purchase, and in order to assure the continual use of the solid waste disposal pit a meeting was held with the municipal system of the community and the office of environmental sanitation was given the responsibility to monitor the continual use and maintenance of the site. Projects of this sort reinforce the commitment of Universities to their local communities and students can play a pivotal role by conducting research and solving the problems within their community by working together with their universities, local institutions, and the community members. This will help create partnerships, conduct more projects and solidify the commitment of large institutions to be problem solvers of the community. Moreover, this project can be replicated in other towns were appropriate waste disposals methods are deficient.
The following is a link to a video of the project as it was covered by the local news https://youtu.be/ozRgi86ZeVQ
The project had to be carefully conducted by keeping in line with local safety protocols issued during the outbreak of the pandemic such as keeping physical distance, and wearing face mask during the construction of the solid waste disposal pit. Moreover, this project will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as it provides a site for proper disposal of face masks and other contaminated waste which has the capacity to spread the virus
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This project was able to be executed by the generous contribution of multi-stakeholders that supported our project by supplying material and financial support. This institutions include Farta wereda administrative office, Kebele leaders , Woreda health office, Debre tabor University, and other governmental and non- governmental organizations as well as the local community who actively participated in this project. the beneficiaries of our project are all community members of Kebele 2,3,4 and 5 which constitutes of around 36,000 residents.
Eleni Girma, Estabilishing a solid waste disposal pit in Debre Tabor, Ethiopia - A project by final year medical students of Debre Tabor University to reduce open waste disposal and improve environmental sanitation