Artful Advocacy: Children Illuminate Bhalswa's Waste Problem
Better Bhalswa’s WoW initiative seeks to improve waste management and liveability in Bhalswa by incorporating education, health, and livelihood lenses to create a sustainable solution for the community.
We start by educating children about the importance of waste management and its impact on the environment and public health. To kick off the initiative, we organize an art and drawing workshop for primary students, which is an effective way to teach them about recycling, composting, and waste reduction while fostering their creativity to envision a better Bhalswa.
In July 2022, we launched the WoW initiative through the B for Bhalswa program, which sensitizes and builds capacity in primary school students at Bhalswa. We asked the students to draw their version of Bhalswa as it is, and the results were shocking. Instead of happy and lush landscapes, their artwork depicted waste and pollution-filled environments, highlighting the grim reality of their daily lives.
Children living in areas surrounded by waste and pollution suffer significant physical and mental health impacts. They may experience respiratory problems, skin irritation, and other health issues. Living near landfills increases the risk of respiratory diseases, cancer, and accidents, as well as affecting mental and emotional well-being, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression that can hamper cognitive development and creativity. This is evident in the artworks the children create, which showcase landscapes filled with waste and pollution rather than the vibrant environments they could have depicted had they lived in a cleaner and greener area.
The issue not only affects children's health but also impacts the liveability of the area. Bhalswa, being one of Delhi's largest landfills, generates a considerable amount of waste, emits foul odors and leachate, and attracts scavengers and pests. It also causes air pollution and groundwater contamination. Urgent action is required to rejuvenate and regenerate the area by implementing effective waste management strategies, promoting recycling and reuse, and introducing green infrastructure like decentralized wastewater treatment facilities, biomethanation units, and recharge pits. Educating and raising awareness in the community and involving them in the waste management process is also vital.