'Waste separation' that transform Ban Pong Sri Nakhon into a green community.
How a village called Ban Pong Sri Nakhon in Chiang Rai Province has won a national outstanding community award is no ordinary story. Even Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha came here and presided over the opening ceremony of the sign "Zero Waste Village Learning Center" in November 2016. These are just a few testimonials of how exceptional waste management of this village is.
Before achieving these merits, Ban Pong Nakhon was a failure, a divided community and lack of unity. The quality of life was deteriorated due to debt and gambling problems. While the natural environment was contaminated with chemicals and paddy fields became so toxic with insecticides that native plants and animal life almost became extinct.
Then a dengue fever outbreak became a turning point for this community. During this crisis members of the community started joining hands and participated in destroying breeding grounds of Aedes mosquitoes which are the cause of this epidemic.
According to Manop Chaibuakam, Director of zero-waste Village Learning Center, Ban Pong Sri Nakhon, more than 10 years ago, dengue fever epidemic was so critical that this village had the highest number of infected people in the province. The reason was clear because, in recent year, piles of unmanaged in the village had become breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti. With the fear of dying from the disease, the villagers began to cooperate in a waste management effort. Soon, the threat from dengue fever began to decrease and at the same time, people in the community started to realize the benefit from waste separation.
Kamnan Manop explained that waste separation in the community is roughly divided into 4 phrases, that is waste disposal by the municipality, recycling process, organic waste management and the separation of hazardous waste. Every household knows how to separate wastes and transform them into a more valuable product, such as using bamboo to weave baskets for waste separation for the whole community, which is the work of wickerwork occupational group, or turn fabric scraps into hammocks and sell them as local products as well as making eel and shrimp traps from snack bags.
In addition, wastes are also being transformed into souvenirs, utensils and furniture etc. It becomes another source of income for the community and disseminates local knowledge on making handicrafts at the same time.
Another turning point that made Ban Pong Sri Nakhon people became more serious about waste separation began after large amounts of organic waste were turned into bio-fertilizer. Initially, villagers were suggested to grow an edible garden around their homes by using bio-fertilizer. Later, when organic movement spread to this area, villagers became more aware of the health benefit from non-toxic vegetables. Growing pesticide-free vegetables is not only a better option for consumption but it is also a source of income as OTOP products.
From growing a cleaner edible garden to creating organic farming, as a result, Ban Pong Sri Nakhon is better known as a "Safe food community" and this is the origin of the project called "Return the frogs to the paddy, return the Fish to the field, return the shrimp to the pond". By this initiative, chemical fertilizers and pesticides are prohibited in this community in order to revive local ecosystem that used to be plentiful and the source of food security for the community.
Nowadays, local plants and animals are being treated naturally. Therefore food from Ban Pong Sri Nakhon can proudly be called "organic food" and is produced in accordance with self-sufficiency principles based on the sufficiency economy philosophy of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great.
A small success from waste management and chemical-free farming resulting in more individuals and organizations pouring into the village to see how things are done in the community. Thereafter, community has organized homestay project to accommodate visitors and at present, there are 45 families open their house to tourists who want to experience the rural lifestyle and agro-tourism.
From the garbage crisis to a balanced and beneficial way of life while adhering to the principles of self-reliance by following the principles of the sufficiency economy philosophy expounded by King Rama IX. From communities with poor social quality, Ban Pong Sri Nakhon is now famous in 3 areas: organic tourism focusing on safe food consumption, zero-waste management and natural learning resources.
Each day, Ban Pong Sri Nakhon earns additional income by collecting 4,000 baht fee from each field trips that are constantly visiting this village. The money goes to the staff in the community and supports social activities such as speaker fees, location fees, and learning base fees. Even though it's not a sum but it is considered as an encouragement for those who work for the well-being of the community.
And thanks to the waste separation that changed Ban Pong Sri Nakhon community into a green society, this community has finally become a proud winner of the national Zero Waste Award granted by the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion.