La Zona Solid Waste Management Project – Honduras

La Zona, Aldea of Santa Rita de Oriente, Santa Barbara, Honduras

Community Description
La Zona is a community of about 600 citizens in about 120 households located at the base of the Montana Santa Barbara and just outside the boundaries of a national park. The community is surrounded by several creeks and rivers, making it an important place to improve sanitation infrastructure.

The residents of La Zona are largely subsistence farmers or cattle ranchers, but, as the community is located only twenty minutes from the department capital, Santa Barbara (pop. 37,000), there are several people who work in construction or service positions. There are two people in the community who have full-time, professional (office) employment. For a small community, there is a slightly higher level of education and environmental awareness than the average community due to the proximity to the city and educational resources.

The community has already successfully implemented a latrine project and a gardening project, and now considers the need for a solid waste management project of utmost importance.

The current management of trash in the community is environmentally detrimental, contaminating the water and polluting the air. Trash is thrown in a creek behind the houses or in a gutter. Often it is burned in the street or in wood-burning cook stoves. The burning of such items as plastic bottles, plastic bags, clothes, and shoes causes harmful smoke.

Project Description
This is a solid waste management project to construct a relleno sanitario (essentially, a small in-ground “landfill”) in La Zona.

The technology to be used is very simple and entirely manual. The relleno will be built as follows: a 7′ x 7′ x 7′ hole will be dug and cement blocks placed to form four walls. Cement will be poured around the edges and formed into a concave shape to provide drainage and ensure that water does not enter the relleno. A roof will be made out of three 6’x3′ corrugated zinc laminate screwed together. The roof will be attached with hinges embedded in the cement. Each layer of inorganic trash will be followed by a layer of dirt and compacted with a hand compactor.

The relleno sanitario will be built just behind the school building. This location is far from any water source or running surface water.

The students will learn firsthand that the best way to manage trash that cannot be either composted or recycled will be to bury it in a managed, properly structured, landfill. The parents of the children will be responsible for the once-monthly management (the layering and compaction of soil over the top of the trash).

The project is being carried out under the direction of the Escuela Jose Trinidad Reyes and the seven-member town council (Patronato).

The project is an adjunct to the school program for recycling plastic bottles and paper. Bottles are cleaned and compressed, and then sold in Santa Barbara. The landfill will be for school use only, with trash mostly composed of items disposed of from school snacks, including chip bags, juice bags, and wrappers.

The community will donate all labor. The work will be done by community volunteers (town council members, influential church members, fathers of school children) as well as by the high school students as part of school credit. The owner of a large chicken-raising operation in the neighboring community has offered to rent a backhoe for the excavation at a reduced price.

The community will also provide the zinc laminate to be used for the roofing as well as the material necessary for the fencing around the relleno.

Project funds will be used for all of the material and some transport costs.

When the landfill is nearly full, the last layer will be soil, at least a foot deep. This will be compacted just as the other layers. Dirt will be layered and compacted until it is level with the ground around it. The landfill may be marked with a final layer of rocks on top. After that, it will go untouched.

The project will include the training of 20 community members (parents of school children) in how to manage the relleno, and the continued general education of 67 elementary school students and 30 high school students (grades 7-9) on improved waste management practices.

Project Impact
137 people, consisting of 97 schoolchildren and 40 parents, will directly benefit from the project. At least 300 additional community members will benefit indirectly from increased awareness and adaptation of better practices.

Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Alexandra Wilson

This project is important, as it will finally provide an alternative for better waste management. Teaching the community about the harmful nature of burning plastics and the irresponsible and damaging effects of putting trash into the watershed do not carry much weight when there is no available alternative!

The building of a school relleno will provide an example to the families in the community of a better method of trash management. Once the idea is made a reality and the new practice made more comprehensible, smaller, family-size rellenos can be built.

Dollar Amount of Project

Donations Collected to Date

Dollar Amount Needed
$0.00 – This project has now been fully funded through the generosity of The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust as a part of their Clean Water Projects initiative.

We encourage others to continue to donate using the Donate button below, and we will notify Peace Corps Volunteer Alexandra Wilson of your donation. Additional funds will be used to fund the next project by Alexandra and/or those of other PCVs in the country of service.

This project has been finished. To read about the conclusion of the project, CLICK HERE.