THE ORIGIN AND JOURNEY OF CLEAN CITY
After moving to Nepal in 2016 to work as a Disaster Relief Project Manager following the major earthquake that killed 9,000 people, Taylor was overwhelmed by the amount of pollution and felt compelled to take action. The fact that 70% of Nepal’s waste is dumped or openly incinerated has led to a major environmental and health crisis and yet the government has taken no responsibility. Realizing the language barrier, Taylor studied Nepali at a university in Kathmandu which enabled her to communicate with community stakeholders in order to understand the underlying causes. Understanding the systemic issues led Taylor to build a fluid model that organically adapts to meet the needs of a diverse network of stakeholders within the waste ecosystem.
Clean City was launched in 2017 with the objective of empowering, educating and employing locals to build a community-owned waste management model that could be replicated in Nepal and other countries. Clean City started with the local community, and went on to establish a partnership with the municipal government and Digo Fohor Bebasthapan Sahakari (Sustainable Waste Management Cooperative), comprising 120 local businesses.
Every step of the journey was a challenge, but with a tremendous amount of perseverance and constant negotiations and compromise, we are proud to have achieved:
Employment of up to 45 locals (70% were marginalized women)
Partnerships with 120 schools to conduct education programs
Conversion of 2T of organic waste to fertilizer per day, yielding a total of 46T of fertilizer over two years
Recycled 35T of plastic
Partnerships with social enterprises to initiate community projects: i.e. installed mineral water filtration systems, clean-ups, marches, art installations, murals
An assessment and case study of the main municipal landfill; sponsored visiting environmental engineers from Colorado University (USA)
A 7-month lockdown in 2020 profoundly impacted Clean City’s operations. School education programs and waste collection services stopped, terminating all income generation.
The second surge of COVID-19 in Nepal in April 2021 dealt a harder blow to the most vulnerable communities. It impacted their livelihoods, their food security, nutrition, health, and their education.
Clean City raised $20,000 for emergency COVID-19 relief food packages, women's hygiene training and sanitary napkins, which reached 2,500 of the most impoverished families.
Endorsing women-owned business
We were proud to partner with Nepali women-owned social enterprises to hand sew all our reusable pads and masks. We believe in supporting small locally owned businesses that share our values of social impact and environmental sustainability. Our work directly impacted them and enabled their enterprises to survive the pandemic.
Why Menstrual Hygiene?
Several women die every year in Nepal because of chhaupadi, the practice of exiling women from their homes to bare-bones huts or sheds during menstruation because they are believed to be 'untouchable' and 'unclean'. In 2021, our team educated more than 500 women and girls about menstruation to end the perception that they are impure. Here is an NPR article with more detailed information about menstruation taboos in Nepal.
2021 and beyond
In 2021, Clean City partnered with 6 Degrees Network for Women to establish a women’s cooperative, and develop a permaculture farm and soap making enterprise.
Clean City’s vision aims to address the root of the problem. It has evolved to focus on providing education, skills training, and capacity building for local solutions to global problems. Greater cooperation, shared information and resource exchange across strong local and regional networks will bring to fruition this vision of empowerment and regeneration.
Taylor Smythe initially founded Clean City to support a local community to create a self-sustaining waste management social enterprise in Chitwan in Nepal. Her work focuses on building relationships and facilitating connections across sectors, regions, and languages, and collaborating with stakeholders to create decentralized, resilient community-based systems. She is a certified GAIA Sustainability Designer and Permaculture Designer.
Sushila Dhamala is a Chitwan native, mother, social entrepreneur, project manager, and community leader. She has been involved in organic farming, micro-finance and women's empowerment for the past five years.
CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
Musahar Women's Cooperative
The Musahar Women's Cooperative was formed in 2021 to create sustainable livelihoods through diversified farming and microenterprises. The women are being trained in permaculture, vermicomposting, beekeeping, honey harvesting, organic vegetable and mushroom farming, herb growing and processing, soap making, waste material recycling, upcycling, and sustainable land and building design. The Cooperative aims to start producing and selling natural handmade soaps with organic herbs and oils in 2022.
Clean City originated in Sauraha outside Chitwan National Park, the oldest national park in Nepal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Growing tourism and development have brought in economic benefits but also put enormous stress on natural resources, infrastructure, and land use – leading to soil erosion, increased pollution, natural habitat loss, and more pressure on endangered species.
Clean City is working with local stakeholders and subject experts to implement solutions to complex issues, related to waste, food, water, soil, health, education, workplace, and commerce.