Case Study 2.3
The team distributing handouts to school children to educate them about climate change.

Interventions and community projects to tackle waste are important because many people in the community do not know what climate change is and tend not to consider the effects of their everyday actions. The British Council Youth Leadership in Climate Action training showed youth how to make positive change in the community.

A landfill in Urulewatta was pilling high in garbage. Soon, mountains of garbage accumulated, resulting in escalating pollution and problems for the nearby community.

However, a group of youth from the area, empowered through the Youth Leadership for Climate Action (YLCA) grant, tackled the challenge head-on and sought to find solutions for the wasteful problem.

Project beginnings

The Earthlings Kandy project began because of the YLCA challenge grant. Dakshini Samarakoon, Salki Dissanayake, Amali Wadiyagoda, Tehani Madushika and Sathyangani Wickramasinghe all hailing from Udu Nuwara, collectively decided to up the game on waste segregation. They promoted the benefits of separating garbage and encouraged composting among the surrounding community and the endeavour reduced landfill waste collection. 

First, the group conducted research into existing waste management practices in the community and designed their interventions accordingly. Research revealed that many families had the space and means to engage in compositing but were not aware of benefits. Further, waste collection by the municipality did not extend to many areas, leading to challenges in waste management.

Research and awareness raising

They initially conducted an awareness program for students and their parents at the Gangoda Primary School. The group also supported the school to construct a compost pit and to begin composting practices. Further, as waste at the school was not collected by the municipal garbage collection services, Earthlings Kandy simultaneously began an awareness campaign encouraging students to collect their dry waste in a cloth bag (which was provided to them) and dispose of it responsibly in their homes.

Giving the power to youth

Empowered with the YLCA grant and emboldened by the success of this pilot project, the group then carried out awareness programs in several schools in Udu Nuwara between July and August 2023. Awareness programmes were conducted both for children and parents at Wattappola Primary School, Wattappola Central College, Pallegama Sri Wimalarathana Dhamma School, Kiriwaula Secondary School and Mathgamuwa Sri Pemarathana Damma School.

The awareness programs encompassed responsible waste management and climate change mitigation and a memorandum of understanding was signed with the schools to begin composting practices. The group also kept in touch regularly with the schools and engaged in field visits to get updates.

“People had no idea about waste management. They did not realise that toffee wrappers thrown on the road did not decay and adversely affected the environment,” said Sathyangani Wickramasinghe. “We were able to take this message to 420 students and 100 parents. I am immensely proud.”

The YLCA training and subsequent mentorship was also useful. “We knew about climate change, but we did not have a clear idea about it. The training gave us a chance to help our communities,” said Sathyangani.

Case Study 2.2
Sample material used in school awareness creation sessions and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) entered in to with a school.  
Case Study 2.4
At the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the school’s leadership.