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Wasted lives: determining the feasibility of establishing a test case resource recovery programme in the urban poor community of Faux-a-Chaud, Saint Lucia

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According to studies carried out by the World Bank/UNDP Integrated Resource Recovery Project, highly developed informal sector networks of refuse scavenging (resource recovery) already exist in almost all developing countries, (Bartone 1990, p.15). This is due to the fact that in the urban centres of the developing world, the dramatic and rapid increase in population has led to several negative ramifications namely, a rise in the levels of urban poverty and an inability of governments to cater to the rising demands for basic infrastructure services such as solid waste management. As a result, the marginalized urban poor are exposed to numerous environmental hazards, (Hardoy and Satterthwaite 1991). Through scavenging recyclable materials, these groups are able to make a livelihood by providing a steady, reliable supply of secondary raw materials for local manufacturing industry, (Wilson et al. 2006, p.802). Therefore, resource recovery (RR) has been identified as a means of alleviating urban poverty, enhancing environmental sustainability and bettering communities.In the small island developing state of Saint Lucia, the researcher sought to determine the feasibility of establishing a test case resource recovery programme in an urban poor community, given the aforementioned benefits. Limited by the narrow scope of the project and the researcher’s own expertise, the study focused primarily on the social and policy factors, which were examined using the conceptual framework of sustainable community development based on the four principles of social equity, environmental integrity, good governance and economic viability. The results of the study denoted that there were no real policy barriers to the establishment of a resource recovery programme (RRP). However, the lack of legislation on more sustainable waste minimization strategies highlighted the lack of political will among past and present government administrations to move towards a more sustainable agenda despite their commitments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Agenda 21. The social element denoted several challenges with regard to community cohesion and participation, representation, and consumption and waste disposal patterns of behaviour. However, if addressed, these challenges should not pose as a deterrent to pursuing further research for developing the RRP.
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