A. H. Md. Maqsood Sinha
This profile was prepared when A. H. Md. Maqsood Sinha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Capitalizing on the high organic content of domestic waste, and tapping into a pool of ready labor, Maqsood and Iftekhar are setting up a string of community-based composting plants that convert garbage into fertilizer. Their work not only meets the need for efficient and environmentally sound ways to manage refuse, but also meets the demand for organic fertilizers. The city government recognizes these benefits and allows the pair to use vacant lots for their work. Winning over neighbors required not only a good argument for recycling, but a technical solution to the infamous stench that gives trash dumps a bad name, so Maqsood and Iftekhar adapted a system that would keep the smell down.Along with composting, Maqsood and Iftekhar have designed and implemented an inexpensive solid waste management program in two slums of Dhaka. Supported by the United Nations, they have adapted a Sri Lankan model of barrel-type composting that allows slum dwellers to compost their kitchen scraps. People can sell their nutrient-rich products to Maqsood and Iftekhar's organization. The two point out that it is meaningless to exhort people living in slums to keep a clean environment when they don't have enough food on the table. Only by demonstrating that waste is a resource was it possible to gain their cooperation. As Mohammad Azizul, a senior slum resident, remarked, "The slum is cleaner, we are earning money, and there is less illness."