North Kuching, a city of 160,000 people in Sarawak, Malaysia, has twice been the winner of the national Bandar Lestari Sustainable Cities-Environmental Award in 2006/2007 and 2009/2010 for its continuous efforts in achieving environmental sustainability. In 2010, North Kuching City prepared an ambitious plan to achieve a 50% reduction in waste by 2020 through promoting composting at the household and community level. As a result, a pilot project for promotion of household composting using the EM-Bokashi method, a method of composting using effective microorganisms, was piloted in a community of 300 households. Due to these efforts North Kuching was chosen to participate in the ASEAN ESC Model Cities Programme funded by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund in order to undergo capacity building and training aimed at expanding the success of pilot project within the city.
At the request of North Kuching, the Kitakyushu Urban Centre of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (KUC IGES) along with its two local partners, who are actively involved in promoting household composting with citizen groups, organised a two-day training programme for North Kuching City officials from the 23rd to 24th October 2011 in Kyushu, Japan to give them first-hand experience in household composting and instruction in public participation.
The training programme comprised an introduction to municipal solid waste management and community participation in Kitakyushu City; Danball Composting - a simple, low-cost household composting method introduced by the Senior Volunteer Group in Kokura, Kitakyushu (photos can be seen on their website) and instruction in EM Bokashi and its application in urban farming by the Daichichi to Inochino Kai, a local NPO in Sasebo, Nagasaki. The participants found that training was very helpful for their on-going project in North Kuching and expressed their interest to expand their current programme applying the lessons learned from the visit.
To follow up, KUC IGES will visit North Kuching for the Malaysian National Workshop for the ASEAN ESC Model Cities Programme on December 12 2011 and monitor the progress made on the project. KUC IGES will also work to strengthen ties between North Kuching and the local partners who participated in the study tour.