In Nov. 2016, Karbala Municipalities Directorate (KMD) established a plastic bags manufacturing plant, a $55 million investment, to resolve a chronic trash collection problem in the province – the inability to provide garbage receptacles for the homes. The distribution of bags, rather than receptacles, provided an affordable solution that would better facilitate trash removal from homes and help improve solid waste removal service. The plant has the capacity to produce 1,000-1,200 bags per hour and employs ten people. At full capacity, the plant can produce enough trash bags to supply all of the districts and subdistricts of Karbala. In addition, the plant will be able to maintain a strategic stock supply to meet the increased demand that occurs as a result of approximately one million visits to the holy city of Karbala during major religious holidays.

The Essential Service Delivery Oversight (ESDO) working group conducted a site visit on Jan. 1, 2017 to assess the factory’s success in resolving the trash collection problems. The ESDO working group fulfills a monitoring role, gauging how effectively Service Delivery Improvement Plan (SDIP) solutions are being implemented. The ESDO team found that plant productivity was extremely low, producing only 400-450 bags per day rather than 1,000-1,200 bags per hour, due to constant power outages. The plant’s low productivity meant that the KMD’s substantial investment in a long-term solution had become economically unfeasible. The ESDO team and local officials worked together to identify a solution to the situation. Their recommendation was to connect the plant to the subdistrict’s emergency power line to secure continuous electricity, which provincial officials quickly approved.

Karbala ESDO committee member, and Department Services Manager, Mr. Faris Sadiq commented, “We commend the role of GSP/Taqadum in helping the provincial departments prepare and implement SDIPs, which help us provide better services for the citizens, especially considering the scarcity of financial resources. This support helped us to search for low-cost solutions with considerable impact based on the SDIP methodology.” The new garbage bag plant is now producing as expected, and the ESDO committee and Karbala officials continue to be innovative in their search for continuous improvement in solid waste removal. They plan to purchase a 60 KV generator as a long-term backup source of energy and are researching possibilities for a plastic recycling plant that would provide raw plastic for the garbage bag plant and reduce solid waste. Without proper implementation of GSP/Taqadum’s service delivery improvement planning, including ESDO visits, the plant would have likely failed, and citizens would have suffered from poor solid waste disposal services.