Heng Yon Korra has a plan to reduce trash and fight poverty in Phnom Penh. So far, it’s working.
He quickly learned that, in a nation trying to rebuild after years of war and isolation, discarded metals and plastics were precious commodities. Selling recycled waste, Mr. Kora soon had enough money to pay for schoolbooks.
His profession in human rights and development often brought him face to face with garbage pickers. Thousands of them, including about 1,000 children in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, pick garbage for a living, selling scrap to earn enough to eat. Many face discrimination and grim health prospects.
There was the growing amount of garbage, too. As Kora’s nation rises, enjoying an economic boom, its garbage woes have piled high.
So in 1997, Kora decided to address the poverty and waste by founding the Community Sanitation and Recycling Organization (CSARO), a nongovernmental organization that turns trash into an economic asset for the poor, borrowing an idea from NGOs in neighboring countries.