I am part of a team of MIT students conducting a waste management analysis for five municipalities in the Region Autonoma del Atlantic Sur (RAAS) of Nicaragua. I am working on the technology aspect of the project and am focusing on designing a collection device. My goal is to meet with the trash collectors on Big and Little Corn Island in Nicaragua to learn more about their route and the conditions of the roads they are collecting on as well, as to see what type of device they have in mind.
Today was our first day of meetings and really getting to know Great Corn Island. I love taking photos so I decided to pick the top photos from today’s adventures. First, we all made our way to the Alcaldia Municipal to meet with Miss Lily, representative of the municipal government with whom we are working to gather information, in order to learn more about a recycling project they did in 2005 and to share thoughts on what we wanted to learn while we are here. We also started to plan out the rest of the meetings we will be having throughout the week.
(Above) The Alcaldia Municipal, where we had our first meeting of the day to learn about past efforts in recycling on the island.
(Right) The Christmas tree outside of the Alcaldia Municipal was made of plastic tied in knots. (Left) In the afternoon, Miss Lily took us on a tour of the Island to show us the different communities and introduce us to some of the people we were going to meet in the next couple days. This photo is Miss Lily showing us a fresh water spring and describing how the Island is trying to clean up the area because it is a part of their history. The Islanders used to come here to bathe and wash their clothes before they had running water which was not so long ago, around 1991.
(Above) We also drove by this community where there aren’t any paved roads but they are wide enough for the trucks to go through and collect the garbage.
(Left) After we drove around the Island, we walked through the community that is interested in the collection vehicle and learned a little bit more about what they wanted. There seem to be multiple communities around the Island similar to this one, maybe four total. They are very densely populated, don’t have a sewage system, and the roads are not wide enough for the collectors to pick up their waste. They end up having to drag the bags of waste to the road where it can be collected. But this usually results in the bags breaking along the way and the trash spilling all over the ground. The community got together and came up with the solution of having about 6 collection carts per community that people could borrow to carry the waste to the road and then return to one of two central locations within the community. After walking through and talking to one of the guys who drives the collection truck, I got a much better sense of what conditions the cart might have to deal with. I didn’t have a tape measure at the time but noted that the sidewalk-like path is about 3.5 sneakers wide. Though this is wide enough to ride a bike along, it didn’t seem that practical because a lot of people like to walk along the path.
(Above) In Quinn Hill, which was one of the last communities we drove through, we saw this pyramid, which was considered to be one of the eight Souls of the World. This community felt more isolated than the others and was made up mostly of indigenous people. There was a beautiful view at this point of the beach and the Atlantic.
Post by Kristin Kagetsu. This post is part of the Designing a Waste Management Strategy in Coastal Nicaragua series.