Sanitation through Cooperation (The South Cotabato Clustered Sanitary Landfill Project)
All the open and controlled dumpsites in the country should have been closed in 2006, if the LGUs complied with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. To date, only about 10% of the LGUs have complied with this mandate because most of them lack the resources to put up a Sanitary Landfill Facility (SLF).
The same law encouraged LGUs to pool resources so that they could jointly address Solid Waste Management (SWM) concerns. So, in 2005, the provincial LGU and its component LGUs started cooperating in the formulation and implementation of their 10-year Integrated SWM plans. They also conducted a series of consultations, workshops and social preparation activities in their communities. The LGUs even underwent training in Waste Assessment and Characterization Studies and took a study tour of the Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte SWM model. A reflection workshop in November 2006 led to the selection of Surallah as the location of the common waste disposal facility. A consultative meeting in December 2007 resulted in the proposed cluster approach.
In December 2008, six municipal LGUs signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the provincial LGU to establish an SLF that can be shared by a cluster of LGUs. Under the agreement, the provincial LGU provides financial and technical support for the construction of the shared facility. The member LGUs pay the host LGU tipping fees that cover the cost of operating and maintaining the facility. By sharing a facility and distributing the cost to operate and maintain the SLF, each LGU was able to comply with RA 9003 at the least possible cost.
The total investment cost incurred for the development of the first cell amounted to PhP12.2 million— PhP5.7 million was shouldered by the municipal government of Surallah while the remaining PhP6.5 million was provided by the provincial government of South Cotabato. The construction of the Cluster SLF started in October 2009 and it started operating in June 2011. The establishment of the Surallah Cluster SLF enabled the provincial government to save PhP46 million.
According to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the Surallah Cluster SLF is the first and only provincial-led SLF program in the country. It is the only SLF that accepts only residual wastes, which compels the LGUs to observe proper waste segregation, diversion and management. The Design and Monitoring Team is composed of in-house units of the LGU, which enabled the province to save on consultancy and construction costs. The MOA for the SLF cluster provided the institutional mechanism for sustaining the program.
LGUs from all over the country are now trying to replicate the cluster approach in their respective areas and want to learn what institutional arrangements were put in place to elicit the cooperation of LGUs in putting up a cluster SLF. The key lies in enhancing LGU capacities and strengthening linkages as well as entering into public and private partnerships.