Basura prolem has always plagued Marawi City for as long as I can remember. For two decades, it seems that Marawi is bound to be known as Marumi City for all time. There was this one time when I was hopping around tourism sites and one mentioned having visited Marawi City and commented that Marawi has no grip over its solid waste management. What a shame! It's like having someone visit your home and upon leaving gossips that your house is filthy. We have to do something. Really.



For several weeks now, the garbage collection trucks are nowhere in sight. Normally, residents and businesses proprietors leave their bags of trash on the street at night for the trucks to collect them early morning. Now that the garbage collection has taken an abrupt halt, the streets are turning into literal Payatas. The stink and eyesore drove hundreds of volunteers to the streets to clean up. However, after a day or two, the streets started to fill up again with garbage. It is disheartening.

In a few weeks, we will have a new mayor and we wish that things will be in order once Mayor Majul Gandamra assumes the post. Mayor Gandamra is a lawyer, and with that level of education, the people of Marawi expects that he has the brainpower and willpower to solve such simple thing as basura. I have been to many places and have observed how they clean their community. Surely, we can replicate their systems.

People, do not give me the same "the Meranaos are lazy and undisciplined" sentiment. A lot of us have been to universities and earned degrees. What is lacking in Marawi is an efficient and  consistent system of solid waste management. Every street should be assigned with a specific spot where a big trash bin should be placed. People will be told that their trash should be disposed in that spot only. When there are designated trash bins, the collectors can gather them with ease. The collectors then should be payed regularly so that they collect regularly. Once people are seeing that the system works, then they will form a habit. It is really a matter of sticking into a system. You can train a dog to follow commands, surely you can train a human to throw garbage properly.

There are so many ways we can encourage people to dispose garbage properly. Surely the authorities know better. My ideas are crude actually. What I am proposing is let's simply have something consistent. Once we form a simple habit of throwing garbage to the assigned spots, then later on the authorities can introduce segregation and other systems.

People can be helped to keep a place clean. The following are tips makes it easier for people to do the right thing and encourage them to be positively involved. The tips focus on the interaction between the person using the public place and features of the place itself.


TIP 1: MAINTAIN A PROPER CLEANING ROUTINE – ‘CLEAN EQUALS CLEAN’

Clean environments lead to less littering and more binning. People in areas that are kept clean are less likely to litter.

TIP 2: MAKE IT EASY

No matter what the system, it needs to be accessible, convenient and user friendly. Accessibility encourages the proper use of bins.

TIP 3: DEVELOP A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY

People can behave differently depending on the type of place and situation. Encourage personal responsibility by making it clear what your expectations are. Is there a carry in and carry out policy? Are there recycling or composting bins? Provide clear and polite messages, well designed and positioned bins and directions on how to use them properly.

TIP 4: USE SANCTIONS AND REWARDS

It’s important to respond to people’s actions, be they positive or negative. Both sanctions and rewards play a central role in developing and shaping disposal behavior.

TIP 5: REDUCE CONFUSION & CREATE PREDICTABILITY

Ensure all strategies and programs reinforce the same expectations in all situations. People in different situations need to know what is expected of them to be environmentally responsible.

TIP 6: AIM TO INCLUDE EVERYONE

Involvement creates a sense of ownership which impacts positively on disposal behavior. Tailor initiatives to promote participation from as many people as possible, including traders, staff and volunteers.

TIP 7: INTEGRATE PREVENTION STRATEGIES

Strategies need to be linked to all stakeholders across the system. Integrating all strategies (including infrastructure) enables different stakeholders to work together to form an effective unit.



For individuals, the following are suggestions on how they can help keeping your community clean and green:

  • Work with the local civic groups to identify and eliminate eyesores, and beautify the local environment
  • Pick up a piece of litter every day
  • Keep a litter bag in your car or your recreational vehicle so you dispose of litter properly
  • Create a trash fishing contest in your waterway to increase awareness about illegal dumping and littering
  • Help your local schools conduct recycling drives and clean-up projects
  • Create a beautiful green space by planting trees and shrubs in an area in need of improvement.
  • Ask local businesses to adopt-a-spot and take care of it
  • Paint and fix up playground equipment
  • Organize a paint-out with family and friends and create a community paintbrush mural over a wall of illegal graffiti
  • Recycle your old tires
  • Donate your old computer equipment or dispose of it properly
  • Conduct a recycling drive in your neighborhood or your business
  • Volunteer to help your employer conduct paper recycling drives at work
  • Donate gently used clothes to needy organizations and shelters and identify other items that you can reuse
  • Compost yard and food waste and seek advice if you don’t know how
  • Find out how pollution in storm drain runoff can impact our aquifers and ecosystems and be passionate about doing your part to reduce litter and solid waste
  • Ask your local government officials to establish regular community improvement activities and to support and promote volunteer efforts
  • Help your library establish an environmental corner that offers books and other educational materials about taking care of the Earth

Any more ideas on how we can make Marawi clean?

Photo of volunteers taken from Facebook. Should the owner wish to have it taken down please contact me.