For a Cleaner Space : Neelam Pradhananga

December 2, 2013 , by Shraddha Thapa, Leave your thoughts
For a Cleaner Space : Neelam Pradhananga » My Dreams Mag

Having participated in Clean up Australia programs, Dr. Neelam Pradhananga began noticing the rubbish accumulated along the roads in Nepal. She identified the urgent need for a positive movement that provided a common platform for individuals, communities & organizations working in the environmental sector to clean up areas and break the cycle of never-ending rubbish accumulation.


With an objective to actively promote Nepali culture and language in Australia, Neelam Pradhananga became involved in Guthi Australia — an organization that promotes Newari culture in Australia, and Sabdamala — first Nepali language school in Australia, in 2009. She is quite a family person and enjoys hiking and walking along the beach with her family and friends.

Originally from Bhaktapur, Neelam, moved to Australia accompanied by her entire family when her father decided to undertake further education. “I was a reserved 10-year-old who was ready for a new life, new environment, and most of all, new challenges that transformed our perspective towards life,” recalls Neelam. She knew that her life was about to change once again when her parents announced that they were moving back to Nepal. She says, “Devastated with the news, I cried every night, drowning my pillow in tears.” She came back to Nepal at the age of 16.

A graduate in Architecture and Civil engineering from Khwopa Engineering College, Bhaktapur, Neelam took up part-time volunteering. She opines that since she wanted to help in the empowerment of people and communities, this was the best opportunity. “The volunteering experience not only trained me to become an independent professional but also magnified my managerial skill,” she shares. Another thing that attracted her was Nepali culture — its rich architecture and diversity. And so, there was no limit to her happiness when she received a scholarship to conduct research on Nepal’s heritage from the University of Newcastle, Australia.


Cleanup Nepal Clean up Nepal Logo - without background-0

On her return to Nepal in 2011, Neelam started noticing the rubbish accumulated along the roads. As a participant in Clean up Australia programs, Neelam identified the urgent need for a positive movement that provided a common platform for individuals, communities & organizations working in the environmental sector to undertake programs that could be helpful to clean up areas and break the cycle of never-ending garbage accumulation.

Reminiscing about her early days, Neelam shares that in 2012 she began to actively research cleanup activities in Nepal. This led her to discover that some existing organizations were already undertaking cleanup activities. “Consequently, I began to explore organizations working in Nepal to share the possibility of working together. Small Earth Nepal was one of them,” she says.


Clean up Nepal is not just about picking up rubbish. Through the act, it aims to provide an ongoing platform for raising awareness on local environmental issues amongst the wider Nepalese community.

Neelam decrees that the key objective of Clean up Nepal is to inspire and empower local communities, community groups, schools, businesses, and local governments to join the movement to carry out community-based activities that address local environmental issues.

Cleanup Nepal aims to raise awareness about the benefits of having a clean environment on health and well being; reduce the haphazard disposal of rubbish in public spaces; develop a more effective, efficient and environmentally sustainable waste collection, management and disposal. It also aims to raise awareness about environmentally friendly-products and encourage reuse, recycling and recovery, and reduction of household waste production.


As a nationwide campaign, Clean up Nepal requires a great deal of co-ordination. According to Neelam, their main challenge was setting up organizational structures, identifying potential stakeholders, and initially getting their vision across. Due to time difference, communication between Small Earth Australia and Small Earth Nepal proved to be quite difficult for her team.

Their other hiccups included the challenge in getting the media in Nepal on-board — “With more pressing issues on the agenda, it seemed solid waste management issues were not on their list of priorities,” claims Neelam.

Also, Clean up Nepal campaign was not well understood – it wasn’t a simple cleanup activity in a locality, but continual activities run by communities throughout the country.

Success Story

After overcoming all its hardships, Clean up Nepal has established itself as an organization that believes in the strength of the Nepali people to create positive change in their communities. Neelam likes to measure her success through her work that has efficaciously impacted people’s life as well as their communities.

The clean-up campaign saw 15,430 volunteers participating in the campaign collecting 84,564.5 kilograms of waste for proper disposal on 21st September 2013. “Besides the tangible results of participation levels of the campaign and the waste collected, Clean up Nepal has also stimulated behavioural change,” says Neelam.

According to her, the success of Clean up Nepal could also be seen in the success of ‘Keep Itahari Clean Campaign’ — Clean up Nepal’s first local partner which was commenced in January 2013. She further shares that the campaign is still held on weekly basis and has mobilized over 20,000 volunteers and collected over 130,000 kilograms of rubbish over the last 11 months.

The Clean up Nepal volunteers are based globally in Nepal, Australia, UK and America. “Their contribution in strategic planning, action planning, marketing & branding, celebrity endorsements, website design and development, documentary production, leaflets/posters/brochures design, translating documents has made the campaign a huge success,” assures Neelam. She further asserts that it won’t be wrong to say that through their enthusiasm and hardship, Clean up Nepal has achieved what none of them had imagined when they initially set off.

Clean up Nepal is the first-ever nationally coordinated clean-up campaign, organized by not-for-profit organizations Small Earth Australia (SEA) and Small Earth Nepal (SEN). “The support and active participation of government and non-government organizations, the private sector, local clubs and communities, and volunteers from Nepal and abroad was overwhelming,” Neelam shares.

Clean-Up Nepal


Text by: Shraddha Thapa
Images: Neelam Pradhananga

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