Pune is at an historical moment. It is not only learning but it showcasing possibly the largest experience of integrating waste pickers in to solid waste management through formal institutional arrangements. Pune’s waste pickers have shown that direct user fee recovery and service provision through integrating informal workers is doable and sustainable.
But innovations are never perfect. They are improved over time by tweaking the glitches. How do we perceive the glass filled with water? Is it half full or half empty? The waste pickers gathering in Pune for the 1st Global Strategic Workshop of Waste Pickers are here from April 27th through 30th to answer such questions. The global strategic workshop of waste pickers organised at YASHADA is an opportunity to meet waste pickers from around the world. Come interact with them, speak with them through interpreters and learn about their lives.
Learn about waste pickers of Africa (Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Benin, Madagascar, Cameroon), Latin America (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Colombia), and Asia (India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia). Speak with them to understand how they view SWaCH and other models of waste picking.
Waste pickers across these regions are facing similar challenges. At the global workshop today, they focused on sharing different models of waste picking in their respective countries.
Michael Badrous, a member of Spirit of Youth waste pickers’ association and a newly formed waste pickers’ union in Cairo, Egypt, shared with his workshop group the challenges the Zabaleen community has faced since multinational companies made a contract with the government and then did not do the work. The waste pickers’ union is suing the company to cancel all contracts with foreign companies. The union was formed only this year but has since accumulated 3,000 members, and is fighting hard against privatisation.
Simon Mbata, a waste picker and organizer from the South African Waste Pickers Association, noted a similarity between participants’ models. “When it comes to selling the material, we mostly rely on the middlemen,” he said.
But in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a waste pickers’ network opened a plastic factory a few years ago, getting closer to closing the production loop. They buy plastics from waste picker cooperatives and melt the material down into pellets.
In Kacak, Serbia, waste pickers are beginning the first functional waste pickers’ cooperative in the country. The municipal government and national government is supporting the process, providing equipment, space for the cooperative and help with management and bookeeping. In Eastern Europe, waste pickers are largely Roma.
“There’s a fear of losing welfare if they start to work formally,” said Jelena Nesic, with Democratic Transition Initiative, an NGO working with waste pickers to form the cooperative. But she said SWaCH is a model that the waste pickers are looking to as a success story.
Tomorrow at the global workshop, waste pickers will share success stories of social inclusion and integration into waste management systems in their countries.
For more information and for interviews with waste pickers while they are still in Pune, contact:
Malati Gadgil 9158007062 or Lakshmi Narayan 9765999497
Deia de Brito – 976540566 or email@example.com