PDIA Course Journey: Littering in Bangalore City

Guest blog written by Sridhar Pabbisetty, Deepthi MR, Manivannan Ponniah, Salma Fahim.

This team is made up of a Public Policy and Sustainable Urbanisation expert, a Public Relations Officer, Bangalore Electricity Supply company, and two civil servants. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka is dubbed as the IT city and Garden city alike. Residents of the city have called it retired-persons’ paradise. Over the last 15 years, the city has become a booming hub for IT companies which have not only brought in infrastructural development, but also has expanded leaps and bounds in terms of income. While the city saw rapid development on one side, it also began seeing heaps of garbage being generated and hit a roadblock when it came to managing its solid waste.

The city’s municipal corporation is called Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike  is responsible for managing the city’s waste. BBMP decided to set up a solid waste management wing. This would help in managing solid waste of the city. Here are a few numbers to take into consideration:

1.         Bangalore generated 57,00 MT of waste every day
2.         Almost 1200 MT is unaccounted for
3.         This comes to about 22% of the total waste!
4.         Even though the BBMP has 30,000 cleaning workers, this is the state of affairs.

As we began understanding our problem, we got deeper insights about the demon we were dealing with. Littering is a cultural problem in India. People lack basic civic sense, irrespective of class. This leads to heaps of garbage strewn around on streets and street corners. Besides there are not adequate number of dustbins placed by the Municipality nor is the system of collecting the garbage from these public bins very effectively monitored. It is a problem with immense political and economic dimensions, we as a team decided to focus on one crucial sub component of ‘littering’ to work on.

Our understanding of the problem was deepened thanks to the diverse team expertise as well as the power of the network we could bring in. While Sridhar’s on the ground and evidence based public policy approach got us the microplans for waste management of each of the 198 wards, Salma’s deep understanding of using technology for governance gave us a robust roadmap of leveraging blockchain for litter prevention and management. Manivannan’s experience in citizen and government partnership helped us to figure out how to reach out to BBMP and other institutions with a collaborative proposal for action on litter. Deepthi’s experience in media management and working with officials across experience levels helped us validate some of our assumptions and do course correction.

While working on fishbone diagram, the team realised that this issue had many dimensions.

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 11.15.34 AM

Process, Technology, Environment, People involved, Policy etc played a key role in understanding the issues better as we kept crawling through the process. The team had to redo the fishbone diagram in order to understand the problem better. However, it was done in order to pin-point the exact nature of the problem we were facing.

In due process the team was also on the path of discovering multiple agents from various departments who were interested and keen on helping us resolve this issue. The team found out that there is an NGO called Citizens Involved Technology Assisted Governance which is working on Solid Waste Management and is building a blockchain based system for the BBMP. An official is also keen on getting as much help as possible to manage solid waste. Similarly, the department of tourism and other Pollution Control Board want to make sure the city is clean for tourists who come in as well as the residents living in the city.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Problem finding approach instead of Solution based approach is an excellent way to deal with an issue
  2. How we ensure we approach multiple solution pathways iteratively with short iterations
  3.  In the alternative world of startups – fail fast is encouraged and it forces teams to push alternatives with all their might inspite of limited resources. PDIA enables such a problem solving mindset
  4. Breaking down iterations and setting bite sized-achievable- accountable- goals help us making quick progress

While we have had our share of Complex problems to solve over the years, some of the solutions that have helped us seemed more intuitive. Now to see so many more solution approaches documented and structured as PDIA has been a delight.

To learn more, visit our website or download the PDIAtoolkit (available in English and Spanish).

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