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January 26, 2012

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Philippines – 25 Jan 2012 –

Young children work without masks or gloves, and sometimes they are not even wearing shoes as they sift through charcoal in search of nails to sell at the junkyard. At the end of the day, some jump into the polluted bay to wash off the grime.

Many charcoal-making families in the Ulingan squatter community in Tondo earn just 70 pesos a day, or $1.60, well below the Philippines’ minimum wage rate of approximately 400 pesos, or $9 a day. The children collecting the nails may make only the equivalent of 25 to 40 cents in pesos.

In some cases, families earn just enough to buy a kilogram of poor-quality rice and “pagpag”—fast-food leftovers picked out of dumpsters or rubbish piles. Pagpag in Tagalog means “shake off,” as in shaking the debris off the discarded food.

Some charcoal-makers in the Manila slums reportedly borrow money from loan sharks at staggering interest rates just to buy raw timber.

Generally, though, the urban poor are resourceful in scavenging wood from garbage dumps and demolished construction sites. In Southeast Asia overall, about 10 to 50 percent of wood fuel comes from forests, with the remainder coming from construction scrap, dead wood, stumps, and other non-forest sources, according to FAO. Read original article