Martijn Eerland at the ISWA-SWIS Winter School: Summer Edition

Jul 29, 2022 | Uncategorized

Hello there, my name is Martijn Eerland and I hail from the beautiful Caribbean Island of Sint Maarten which is 37 miles2 big. Actually, Sint Maarten the Dutch half is approximately 16 miles2 and the French half is approximately 21 miles2.

As an environmental engineer I currently do project management for the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB). The NRPB was established subsequent to one of the most devasting hurricanes registered in the Atlantic Ocean/Region devastated Sint Maarten in 2017.

The Netherlands “gave” Sint Maarten approximately 550 million USD to build back better, stronger and more resilient. A single donor trust fund therefor was set up with which the World Bank got involved upon request of the Netherlands to ensure that the funds would be dispersed to adequate projects appropriately carried out.

Pre, during and post project implementation there are Environmental and Social Safeguards (myself and others) who ensure that all risks related to the project(s) are foreseen and that there are adequate mitigating measures for these risks.

The above being said one of the projects that is in preparation is the Emergency Debris Management Project (EDMP) which consists, amongst others, out of the current Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) site and a Temporary Debris Sorting and Recycling facility (TDSR). On Sint Maarten we actually have two “landfills”, the “official” MSW landfill and the smaller “temporary” landfill, which was created from all, or most, of the debris from hurricane Irma (The Irma Debris Site (IDS).

Our current MSW, which has been there from the late 70’s early 80’s, is either passed or very close to its life expectancy.  One island with a very big waste problem however, the waste problem is a problem many of us commonly share in allot of parts of the world.

When I heard that I was selected to go to and attend the ISWA SWIS winter school “Summer Edition” course, I was elated and reserved at the same time, after all I did not have that much experience in this subject. However, after reading more about the course and imagining how the gained knowledge could be applied, I could not wait to get going.

Having arrived in the evening around 10 PM one of the humblest and kind persons assisting with the program picked us up and brought us to the hotel, thank you very Alinda/Olindo! When Monday morning came around and it was back to the school benches (which had been awhile) I noticed the diversity in the participants, young and old, that were there from all parts of the world, from Finland to Brazil and from Thailand to the United Kingdom with the Caribbean and Africa in the mix to.

Learning that waste was not a solved issue and a common problem in many of these “more developed countries” compared to Sint Maarten made the world feel just a little smaller as we all shared a same goal and an interest to learn more about this subject and what approaches could be taken to tackle it.

Blink twice and the course is over as the days flew by.

I went into this course as a “Tabula Rasa”, Latin for blank page, and left with such great added knowledge on the subject. Likewise, the people that were met there, I will never forget and hope to meet again one day perhaps in a waste management related capacity or other.

So much information is shared with you every day it really took some getting used to. At the end of every day, it really took some time to recover.


On day one we were introduced to MD. Sahadat Hossein which felt like a life changing experience. What an amazing individual who is able to transfer his passion for this subject to all present. During his presentations over the entirety of the course he created a paradigm shift pertaining to solid waste management for me and I hope for others as well.

Apart from sitting in the classroom and paying attention to all the amazing presentations by the enthusiastic speakers, the course was a good mix of practical field trips, in class assignments, additional social events organized and free time. Everything was organized outstandingly, and all involved that assisted did amazing jobs.

The course culminated in a group presentation which was a combination of the in-class assignments that were done plus extra. It was two nights of hard work after classes to put everything together for all the groups but in the end, it was well worth it. The presentations given by all groups were incredibly well put together and were of a high calibre.

 The course ended with a gala evening where all groups could present something cultural and there were actually a few surprises of the amazing talent certain individuals had. In closing I would again like to thank MD. Sahadat Hossein for his inspiration and knowledge sharing and all the persons involved with the organization. What an amazing two weeks it was, perhaps I should not have blinked twice.

Best and success to everyone

Martijn R. A. Eerland

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