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Women's Association for Solid Waste Management, Community of Santa Clara – Bolivia

In this project, women take a different approach to tackling the problem of trash. “Women's Association for Solid Waste Management, Community of Santa Clara” creates useful products out of old tires and makes compost to grow seedlings. The project’s holistic approach to managing solid waste provides women with jobs while helping clean the environment.

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The problem

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.

The solution

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 rubbish bins.

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.

Helping people

Women have jobs and income, which increases their status in the community. Cleaner communities – including less blight from tire fires – benefit everyone.

Spillover effect

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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