Women's Association for Solid Waste Management, Community of Santa Clara
The people in Santa Clara, Bolivia – adjacent to the Brazilian border – lack basic services.
They live primarily off of subsistence agriculture, with few opportunities to earn money. The city of San
Matias established a landfill in Santa Clara – which also happens to be located near a natural area
that boasts a wide array of ecosystems. In these ecosystems can be found a significant portion of
Bolivia’s pantanal, and hosts many unique species.
In response to the establishment of a landfill in their community, women in Santa Clara formed an
association and began to recycle the materials dumped there. The women sort the waste, composting organic
matter to produce fertilizer that can be sold or used to sprout seedlings that are also sold. Plastics are
also recycled, and old rubber tires are transformed into attractive, hand-painted planting pots and even
Helping the planet
Improved waste management has a number of benefits. People are burning fewer rubber tires, which releases
noxious black smoke. Also less toxics are able to leach into the groundwater, which helps the
neighboring natural area. Recycling plastic reduces the need to tap fossil fuel resources, as well as
greenhouse gas emissions from production.
Women have jobs and income, which increases their status in the community. Cleaner communities –
including less blight from tire fires – benefit everyone.
This case is an innovative example for the country, and its replication could help people and the
environment all over Bolivia.
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