Candelaria – Honduras

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  • Project type: Waste Management, Aquaculture, River Control Systems
  • Project phase: Design and Implementation
  • Funds needed: $21,340

Project Summary

The Candelaria community, like many communities in Honduras, suffers from a shortage of jobs and an abundance of garbage. But unlike other communities, Candelarians wanted to know if there were other things they could do with their waste, aside from just burying it.

When the community contacted EWB in 2010, through an independent non-governmental organization (NGO), they were already separating their plastics, organic waste, and other materials they thought could be reused.

Material that could not be reused was being dumped. Over time rain falling on the material caused decay that produced odors, and potentially damaged the surrounding natural environment, including the groundwater and river. The town asked for EWB’s assistance in designing and permitting an environmentally safe landfill for material that can’t be recycled or composted.

A recycler who lived in a town many hours away and had a truck, offered to drive the many hours over unpaved roads to reach the town and haul away the plastic bottles that could be recycled. However, the recycler wasn’t able to fit many bottles in his truck each trip, and therefore wasn’t able to make enough from the sale to pay the community much. Other closer recyclers could take metals and higher value plastic materials.

The leaders in the Candelaria community wanted to know if EWB could help them figure ways to reuse their waste materials, while possibly creating much needed local job opportunities. Their primary hope was to create enough revenue from the reuse of waste and recyclables to at least support the two single mothers that separated the plastics and other recyclables from the waste.

EWB first visited the community in January of 2010 and again in July of 2010 to assess the situation and more fully ascertain the wants and needs of the community. During the July trip, draft EWB plans for development of a landfill were reviewed and agreed to by the community. The design included an “above grade” landfill comprised of a number of “cells” that can hold a year’s worth of materials. Each cell will be covered annually before the rainy season so that runoff will not impact the nearby river. The site has capacity for 20-years of landfill storage, giving the community time to identify additional future properties. The community also discussed ways to develop a utility shed (Recycle Center) to support operations at the landfill site, as well as plans for a revenue-generating plant nursery and composting business.

EWB returned to Candelaria in February 2011 to begin construction of the first landfill cell and the Recycle Center and in April 2012 for construction of the second cell. Construction for the upgraded Recycle Center building utilized recycled plastic soda bottles filled with sand to create walls for the building.

Another team examined the possibility of craft projects made from the materials that are harder to recycle, such as plastic bags, glass bottles and tires. Ideas such as creating drinking glasses from used glass bottles and raincoats from fused plastic bags were considered. Local school students were enlisted and they surveyed over 75% of the community residents. This survey aimed to learn more about what types of products might be needed locally and what might be good ideas for micro-business initiatives. EWB conducted workshops for community residents demonstrating potential products from the recycled waste in a visit in April 2012.

The community is environmentally conscious and wishes to be a model for other communities in Honduras. Their hope is to someday be an eco-tourist community.  They have asked EWB to help enhance the town’s main river as well as increase their food production.  EWB visited in January 2013 to assess the local Pichigual River for creation of sand bars that can be mined by residents from the lowest income San Francisco Barrio.  A few families make a living by mining and selling sand as raw materials for making mortar and concrete.  Plans are being developed to construct river hydraulic structures to accrete additional sand for potential mining.

A EWB team also assessed the potential for developing an aquaculture or aquaponics business to grow fish and fresh greens for sale at the Sunday Market.  The community was excited about the potential for new jobs and enhancing their local diets.  An Aquaponics System in being designed and will be constructed during a planned trip in February 2014.

EWB has a five year commitment to develop needed projects in Candelaria. It has been a joy to work with the leaders of this progressive community to help enhance their vision and goals.

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