The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
Supported by Logo WIEGO


September 27, 2012

South Africa

(information about South Africa provided by Musa Chamane, groundWork)

Pietermaritzburg landfill, 2011.

A visit to Pietermaritzburg landfill waste pickers’ community in 2011, during COP17.

Ongoing activities

After COP17, the South African Waste Pickers’ Association (SAWPA) agreed to strengthen organizations on the ground, meaning landfills and street coordinators should be holding local meetings discussing the constitution, and code of conduct of SAWPA. This activity will assist them into organizing themselves by making sure that democratic organizations of waste pickers are developed. In the past 3 years we have continued to hold national meetings and in 2012-2013 we agreed to strengthen local organizations, on the ground. This does not mean the executive committee is not doing anything. There are issues that the executive deals with through face to face meetings as well as teleconferences.

Mooi River

The new Mooi River facility on the right. (credit: Musa Chamane)

Materials Recovery facilities (MRF) are being built in Mooi River and Pietermaritzburg. They are built solely for waste pickers to use without being charged by the municipality. The cooperatives have been formed and trained and are ready to sign the agreement with the Municipality. This initiative will be the first of its kind in the region. Since we believe in Zero Waste, these MRFs will be SAWPA demonstration projects. For more information, check out the groundWork website.

Waste to Energy workshop
December 2012

Landfill visits by SAWPA and groundWork
January-March 2013

Information for the following countries provided by Melanie Samson, WIEGO


The Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON) is currently focusing on organizing waste pickers in seven Nigerian cities. FIWON is holding regular monthly meetings with waste pickers in each of the seven cities to assist the waste pickers to build their organizations, articulate their interests, demand their rights and improve their working and living conditions. FIWON is also running workshops for members and leaders of waste picker organizations focusing on organizational and leadership skills, collective bargaining and human rights.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

September 2012

Together with the LDFC (Ligue pour les Droit de la Femme Congolaise) WIEGO is conducting a mapping of waste pickers in Kinshasa, DRC in order to learn more about how many waste pickers there are in Kinshasa, how they are organized and what challenges they face.


September 2012-March 2012

Linked to the WIEGO focal cities project in Accra, Ghana WIEGO is supporting a project to strengthen organizing and organizational capacity of waste pickers working on Accra’s landfills. This project will include visits to all landfills in Accra to develop an understanding of how many waste pickers are working on landfills and the key challenges that they face, regular meetings with the existing waste picker group on the landfill to provide them with support in building a democratic organization, health screening of waste pickers and possibly mobilising to get them registered on the National Health Insurance Scheme.


First quarter of 2013

WIEGO is continuing to support a process in Kenya to assist waste pickers to organize themselves into county and national alliances. Mobilization drives are being held in four towns across the country to help waste pickers to form self help groups so that they can fight for recognition as workers and improve their living and working conditions. Leadership training workshops are being conducted to provide additional support to the groups. It is hoped that county associations will be formalised and elect their office bearers in the first quarter of 2013.