The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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juliene from benin speaking at a panel

Juliene Mangni answers questions at a panel about human rights and communication held at Expocatadores.

Juliene Mangni, is one of two waste pickers from African countries participating at Expocatadores. This is her first trip outside of Benin. She is the president of an association of 366 women waste pickers in her city of Cotonou, Benin. She and the other women waste pickers sell the plastics, cans and cardboards they collect at a large market. Juliene is trying to improve the situation for the waste pickers. They lack basic equipment for waste picking. Another major issue is that the local government doesn’t acknowledge the waste pickers and provides no support.

Juliene is happy to be at Expocatadores to learn about the opportunities that exist for waste pickers in Brazil. She says that when she goes back to Benin, she will tell members of the association that many more materials can be reused and transformed – for example, brooms can be made of PET plastic and clothing can also be made with recycled materials. She enjoyed the fashion show of women waste pickers at Expocatadores. Juliene has been talking with many waste pickers at Expocatadores and answered questions at a panel about human rights and communication on Nov. 28. She also spoke at the Global Alliance panel, introducing her association and her work in Benin.

Peter Wilson of Kenya speaks at the Global Alliance panel at Expocatadores

Peter Wilson, a waste picker from Kenya, speaks at the Global Alliance panel at Expocatadores.

Peter Abolem Wilson is a street waste picker from Nakuru, Kenya. He is a member of NAWAPA – the Nakuru Waste Pickers Association, which has 180 members and is growing. The association is now a member of the national umbrella association called WAPAK – the Waste Pickers’ Association of Kenya. Peter has been making exchange visits to waste pickers’ groups in other towns and cities in Kenya. He has also been mobilizing for new members to join his association. “What is happening here is what we are trying to organize in Kenya,” Peter explained.

Peter and the waste pickers of Nakuru, Kenya, have been fighting the privatization of waste collection and recycling in his town. He’s also trying to fight climate change in Africa. “Waste pickers play a big role in controlling climate change. Now they’re saying the government wants to bury the waste here in Brazil. In Kenya we haven’t come to the point of the government burying the waste.”

Santu, from India, greets the audience at the Global Alliance panel held at Expocatadores.

Jai Prakash (Santu) Choudhary, secretary of Safai Sena waste pickers’ association in India, spoke to an audience at the global panel on Nov. 28. Santu also participated in a panel at Expocatadores called “Waste-to-energy in the context of solid waste management.”  “We are fighting the privatization and incineration of waste in India,” he said to the audience of waste pickers and others at Expocatadores.

Santu has been working hard to mobilize waste pickers in Delhi, where the Okhla landfill provided a livelihood in recycling for about 700 waste pickers until about a year ago. For the past year, since the waste-to-energy plant has been burning most of the 1,500 tons of waste that once went to the landfill, almost all of the pickers are out of work. Now, with the Ghazipur waste-to-energy plant on its way, there is a lot of work to be done to make sure that the nearly 400 waste pickers who earn their livelihood there do not lose everything. The impact of waste-to-energy projects on waste picker communities is clear. In the communities across India where plants are in effect, waste pickers whose children had to drop out of school to earn more money are now out of work – and unable to return to school, Santu explained. To help get the message across, Santu has been involved in the making of a film about the impacts of waste-to-energy projects on waste picker communities. The film is focusing on three cities in India that have experienced these impacts. Other campaigns Safai Sena is involved in include social security for waste pickers and other informal workers, he explained. Santu said the experience of sharing information with Brazilian waste pickers as well as others from Latin America and Africa was invaluable.

David Narvaez at Global panel, expocatadores

David Narvaez, of RedNICA, holds up a government document that formally acknowledges RedNica.

David Narvaez and Felipe Rosario are among hundreds of Latin American waste pickers who are at Expocatadores this year. David and Felipe spoke about the Latin American Network (Red Lacre) at the global panel at Expocatadores. They gave a brief history and background on Red Lacre. David talked about how Red Lacre is working on growing the national movements in Central America and the Caribbean. He talked about how they are also working towards a more unified Red Lacre.

At the end of David’s presentation, he held up a government document which for the first time formally recognized RedNica, the national waste pickers’ network of Nicaragua.

Lucia Fernandez speaks at global panel at Expocatadores

Lucia Fernandez speaks about the growth of the Global Alliance at the global panel at Expocatadores.

Lucia Fernandez, waste pickers’ global coordinator at WIEGO, spoke at a panel at Expocatadores. She gave a brief history of the formation of the Global Alliance and showed slides of historical moments in that process, such as the 1st Global Conference of Waste Pickers in 2008, anti-incineration actions in support of waste pickers at COP15, 16, and 17, learning exchanges and seminars on the closure of open dumps. She also spoke about the communication support that has gone into helping connect the Global Alliance and projects like the mapping of waste picker associations across Africa, Asia and Latin America. View the full presentation –

the first global conference of waste pickers


  1. Thanks for the informative post and the great photos!

    Comment by Demetria — November 30, 2012 @ 9:21 am