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New phone application could help solve Cambodia’s waste issue

  • Tue, 13 Feb 2018 09:23

GoGreen, an environmentally conscious project, has developed a new application that they hope can engage young people and clean up Cambodia’s streets

The GoGreen application provides real time data and allows users to actively engage in helping to solve Cambodia’s waste problem

GoGreen has launched Cambodia’s first eco-friendly clean-up mobile phone application in an effort to help solve the country’s waste problem.

The application, which is currently available on all android phones, uses real time data and allows users to highlight parts of the city with a lot of waste, organise community clean-ups, and even suggest locations that need a litter bin.

“The app is a useful tool in engaging people with environmental awareness. Not only can it track the city’s waste and facilitate clean-ups, but it also sends out tips and messages to educate people on the consequences of waste pollution,” said co-founder Grace Smith, speaking at the official launch of the phone application.

GoGreen is a project started by Smith and Natalja Rodionova in March 2016. After attending a half-hearted clean-up event in Phnom Penh, they were inspired to take matters into their own hands. Their first clean-up operation attracted more than 100 people, and subsequent events drew more than 300 people. That was when they knew they could take the project further.

“Many of the people who first started coming to the clean-ups were quite young, and a big part of it was taking selfies and tagging and sharing their activity on social media. This inspired us to start the app because we thought it would be a great way to engage younger people in environmental awareness,” Smith said.

With an online community of more than 1,300 members, GoGreen has been instrumental in advocating a green Cambodia. Since its inception, the team have collaborated with governmental and non-governmental organisations, including the ministries of environment and tourism, the Cambodia Hotel Association and various youth groups.

GoGreen is currently in the process of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Phnom Penh Municipality that would see GoGreen partner with the local government. Using the application, GoGreen will provide statistics and data on waste management to the municipality, as well as playing a role in reaching out and educating the community.

Users of the application participate in a city clean-up

Speaking at the launch event, deputy governor of Phnom Penh Dr. Leng Aunny  said that rubbish on the outskirts of the city was not always collected because of either infrastructure, or sometimes because the collectors were ‘unwilling’ to travel so far, and didn’t think it was cost efficient.

He added that rubbish collections were missed because both collectors and householders violated rules regarding pickup schedules.

Aunny stated that the onus was on the citizens of Cambodia to tackle the country’s waste problem.

“Everyone can plant one tree, and everyone can put litter in a litter bin,” he said.

Cambodia’s  waste problem has been well documented, and during the 2016 Water Festival in Phnom Penh, a video circulated showing some cleaning crews sweeping rubbish directly into the Tonle Sap river, which runs through Cambodia’s capital city.

However, the situation has improved, with a report showing that rubbish collection increased by 12.5% nationwide between 2016 and 2017, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

The app was developed in partnership with InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia, a locally run innovation lab that specialises in creating technology for social good.

Channé Suy Lan, its Regional Lead, encouraged everyone in Cambodia to make a cleaner, more livable city by engaging with GoGreen activities and environmental education.

“If littering is a contagious behaviour, our goal is to create a contagion of care, to join cleaning efforts and to create a movement to create lasting change in the community,” she said.

Related reading:

Southeast Asia Globe Magazine

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