How Can Sustainable Solid Waste Management be Achieved in Sri Lanka? An Inquiry into the Role of Education and Awareness Building through Grassroots Efforts

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Kanthie Athukorala


Sri Lanka is facing a dilemma of how to effect economic development while preserving its rich environment and culture. As people’s lives and incomes rapidly change, traditional methods of waste disposal become increasingly inappropriate and detrimental to health. Existing organizations are taking steps to address the issues but, individually, lack the necessary network and linkages to effect widespread change. This paper looks at current solid waste management issues in Sri Lanka and explores how Sarvodaya, as the largest and most imbedded Sri Lankan development organization, might be the missing link in the successful implementation of sustainable waste management in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, this paper will offer recommendations for integration of environmental education into its programs of Individual and Village Awakening, and formation of creative partnerships to promote a nationwide education and awareness campaign for responsible solid waste policy and behavioral change in Sri Lanka. Research for this paper addressed the question of whether environmental education and awareness programs, at all levels of society, can effect behavioral change. A garbage measurement project, awareness programs, and interviews with the leading departments and organizations in Sri Lanka were the basis of the research. Data gathered revealed a gap between education and action that can be bridged by a well-established system of participatory community development. The support system afforded by a multi-stakeholder partnership, combined with a firm political commitment and appropriate technology, offers the promise of a sustainable solution to the waste management crisis faced by Sri Lanka.

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