My name is Chanda Anand Anchan and I am the founder of a self-help group (SHG) involved in waste management in the city of Udupi, where I live. I started this journey in 2006 when the Nirmala Nagara Yojana—a scheme to eliminate open disposal of garbage—was introduced in Udupi. As part of this scheme, the Udupi municipality was appointing SHGs for waste collection. Back then, I used to teach ladies how to ride two-wheelers and this was how I learnt about the opportunity to form an SHG. I thought it was a great way to try something new.

Nobody understood why I wanted to do this work—going house-to-house and collecting waste. And it was very difficult at the start, but I wanted to try something different. Before starting this work, I’d run several small businesses, such as taking painting and soft-toy making classes, selling sweets and snacks that my mother had taught me to make, and more.

I started with just one other worker and we used to collect waste from about 160 houses. Then, over time, with support from the municipality and the District Collector’s Office (DCO), we grew to 15 workers.

In 2017, I thought that it would be good to start working on waste segregation too and so, with support from the DCO and the municipality, our SHG set up a dry waste collection centre, where we sort dry waste into paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, cloth, metal, and so on. This has also allowed us to provide employment to an additional eight women. We have also been supported by Saahas, a nonprofit organisation that has been building our capacity to manage all the processes involved in segregation of waste and door-to-door awareness on source segregation.

Read more about waste management in Udupi by Chanda Anand Anchan at India Development Review.