THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At 25, Silvia Masiero is someone who has more countries than years. The young Milanese, who lives in London, has travelled to 28 countries, calls Palestine her ‘real’ second home and has an Arabic inscription running up her right upper arm.
‘’It means ‘Resistance.’ It’s in memory of Vittorio Arrigoni, a fellow volunteer who was killed in Gaza last year. He had the same tattoo,’’ explains the sprightly development professional from the London School of Economics and Political Systems (LSE).
Silvia is here doing field work for her PhD on new technologies in the Public Distribution System (PDS) at the Centre for Development Studies. But there is something else that makes her interesting to Thiruvananthapuram - the city that’s waging a garbage war.
She has been doing a project on solid waste management for Eram Scientific Solutions, the private firm known for the e-toilet project.
‘’I personally think it (solid waste management) should be on top of the government agenda. But if it doesn’t start from the family - separating the wastes into dry and wet - there is no way an effective disposal chain can work,’’ she says.
Silvia makes an interesting observation. That, in Kerala, the problem is not one of criminality, but one of mismanagement. Back home in Italy, waste disposal is a money-churning business monopolised by the Mafia.
The industrial units in boot-shaped Italy are located in the north. From there, the effluents are carted off down to the relatively poorer south and dumped underground by big Mafia groups.
Medical journals have reported diseases in the south due to the dumping, says Silvia.
‘’But here, it is not criminality but mismanagement. In the sense that the collection- storage- transportation- disposal chain gets stuck in the collection stage,’’ she says.
’Community participation is important and it begins at home. Given that composting is the cleanest technology available here, if we all start from our homes, it will make a huge difference in the capacity of composting.’’ she says.
Silvia Masiero will leave Thiruvananthapuram on Friday evening, but her heart is already in Palestine. ‘’A few days ago, there was an Israeli raid on the refugee camp where I work. So I’m constantly searching Facebook for more news,’’ she says.