Yogyakarta, D.I. Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Fellow Since 2001
This profile was prepared when Wisnu Wardana was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
To clean up Indonesia's cities, Wisnu has formed a collective of workers to gather, transport, and dispose of trash. He has also introduced related efforts that earn money for the group by separating the organic matter in waste and, through a process Wisnu has perfected, turning it into rich compost in forty days. The compost is then delivered to farmers and other clients. Not only is Wisnu improving the appearance and hygienic conditions of cities, he is also professionalizing the waste management industry by readjusting the hours of work, introducing performance measures and incentives bonuses, and providing health care. Through these measures, he is changing the way the public sees people in these jobs, and changing the way people in these jobs see themselves. The garbage workers in his collective now feel pride by association with a system that works efficiently, performs a very visible service to the community, and pays well. Having started small, Wisnu now has municipal leaders, development workers, and schools coming to him to learn the technical and managerial elements of his work so that they can introduce similar programs in their communities.