From CONNECT to CONCEPT: the exchange in Moldova
After a demand on support on solid waste management and intermunicipal cooperation was made by six Moldovan municipalities, two Dutch municipal experts answered by applying to CONNECT. In September, they travelled to the Anenii Noi region of Moldova to work quick wins for the short run, as well as long-term solutions for the waste problems experienced there. What results were achieved, for both parties involved?
The municipal experts Laura Heese-Smit (HVC; a public inter-municipal waste company) and Maarten Beks (Association of Netherlands Municipalities; VNG) answer some questions about the exchange.
What exactly was the exchange in Moldova about?
Laura: “The exchange revolved around the theme of ‘solid waste management’. This is currently considered a national priority in Moldova and an area in which development is urgently needed. The management and processing of waste is in need of some changes: rivers, streets and meadows are used as dumps and waste is burned quite regularly.
There are limited resources and there’s a lack of knowledge about waste in the Anenii Noi region. Taking this context into account, we aimed at giving practical and simple recommendations that are directly applicable. Our final advice was divided into 8 themes, and we asked the participating municipalities to carry the responsibility for one or two of those themes. Examples of such themes are: inter-municipal cooperation on waste collection; researching recycling possibilities; and the collection of waste taxes. The Moldovan group responded well to the recommendations and wanted to get to work right away.”
What is going to happen in the 6 municipalities now, after the exchange?
Maarten: “The week with intensive talks between the 6 municipalities and another 20 from the district has led to the clear, shared vision that cooperation is necessary to tackle this issue. Aside from that, it has also given an idea of what that cooperation should look like. One working group will start doing an inventory on the available means for waste collection in the region, and how these means can be put to use in a more effective way. Aside from that, the coming winter months will be spent on administratively designing an inter-municipal waste company.
Also, the fact that other parties such as the EU delegation and the Association of Moldovan municipalities (CALM) were visited has increased the municipal project’s visibility and opened the doors to the possibility of external financing for the municipalities.”
Which aspects of the CONNECT exchange will you bring back to VNG/HVC with you?
Maarten: “I was very impressed by the willpower of the mayor of Telita. One municipality with barely 1000 inhabitants has been able to move a whole district (with 26 municipalities) to tackle the waste problem together. I was also impressed by the fact that the association of municipalities has been able to conquer a seat at the table of the national cabinet, and is already known for its strong juridical advice among muncipalities, regardless of their limited means.”
Laura: “A confirmation of the conviction that it is necessary and possible to work with the (limited) means you have at your disposal. The challenge is to use those resources and improve situations and solve problems as much as you can. I also have a reinforced appreciation and admiration for the way the whole waste process is organised in the Netherlands. The processes and systems that municipalities and other organisations can access to successfully manage their waste are very impressive.”