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

On Monday, June 15th, 2020 the first online meeting for the constitution of the Globalrec COVID Crisis Advisory Committee for the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers took place with the participation of representatives from 13 countries from the 5 continents. They came together to guide the organization of their global movement.

The representatives of each network, country or organization shared their current situation during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. They also shared problems by other regions-countries not represented in the meeting.

They discussed the opportunities for global actions and started the conversation and process to address representation issues for proper democratic decision making. The group proposed to hold dialogues in their national movements, by country, as well as the Latin American Network, which represents all of Latin America and the Caribbean, to continue the debate.

It is a moment of strong crisis for the waste pickers, but, at the same time, if they are united and organized, it can be a very opportune moment so that they do not have one more recycler around the world without a living wage!

A series of forthcoming calls have been set in the future to develop the organization process of this global movement.

Building a Global Movement

[pullquote]”There are no first or second class waste pickers but there are waste pickers who are more vulnerable than others. Those who do not have an organisational structure are the most vulnerable. We need the voice of waste pickers at the global level”.
Nohra Padilla (ANR, Bogota, Colombia)[/pullquote]

The members and allies of the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers (GlobalRec) are well aware of the global dimension of the pandemic and its subsequent economic crisis. For the first time, waste-pickers and others in informal waste supply chains across the world, from Colombia to Indonesia, are facing the same problems and challenges. This pandemic is forcing us to think and act both globally and locally. In these times of physical distancing, we need to strengthen social solidarities across the borders. We need to ensure that global waste-pickers movements come out of this crisis stronger and sound.

That is why we’ve started a new process of organizing towards the constitution of a Global Advisory Committee so that we can think collectively, brainstorm, about two key issues:

  • The need to continue working as waste pickers, even if local governments discourage it. There are cases where governments prohibit and repress it. Our work has proven to be an essential public service through which we not only feed our families, but with our service we pay for public health and with our products we also pay for the packaging of the food chain in our surrounding communities.
  • There is a need to accompany many waste picker organizations that are requiring different types of funds in order to continue their work during this crisis. There are organizations that are using different platforms to request funds for their organizations. Some partner NGOs are doing the same, and others would perhaps be willing to do so, if we could organize and coordinate such efforts from the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers.

[pullquote]“Since the covid19 we have new problems because there are now no middlemen to sell the materials to. They are stocking the materials. They have very little money for surviving. The ministry went before covid, then he disappeared. The situation was bad before, now is worse”.
Aicha Ba, Bokk Diom (General secretary of the Women committee, Dakar, Senegal)[/pullquote]

Access to waste has become a challenge, globally speaking as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The recycling industry is almost closed. In Bangladesh, for example, the general secretary of the waste pickers union, Morium Begum, a single mother of three kids reported that for the last 4 months the landfill authority does not allow people to enter the landfill, so they can’t get plastic, bottles, or metal, which is what they usually pick. Instead of having a meal 3 times a day  they are now having 1 meal in a day, they are starving. The landfill authorities demolished 300 scrap shops, collapsing the recycling chain is collapsing.

Participants in the call

[pullquote]“We are facing a lot of problems in this situation. Before we could work with many materials, but now that’s not possible, many materials have no value now after covid19 crisis.”
Johnson Doe (Kpone Landfill WP association, Accra, Ghana).[/pullquote]

  • Landon Hoyt. The Binner’s Project (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Ana de Luco. Sure We Can (New York, USA)
  • Aicha Ba. Bokk Diom (Dakar Senegal)
  • Pris Polly and William. IPI (Jakarta, Indonesia)
  • Morium Begum. Bangladesh Waste Picker Union (with Maksud Grambangla support) (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
  • Alessandro Stillo. Rete ONU (Italy)
  • Samuel Le Coeur. Amelior (Montreuil, France)
  • Jacqui Flores y Sergio Sánchez. FACCyR (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Silvio Ruiz Grisales. ARB (Bogota, Colombia) Red Lacre secretariat
  • Nohra Padilla. ANR (Bogota, Colombia)
  • Alex Cardoso. MNCR (Porto Alegre, Brasil)
  • Soledad Mella. MNRCh (Santiago de Chile, Chile) Red Lacre secretariat
  • Nalini Shekar. Alliance of Indian Waste-pickers (Bengaluru, India)
  • Johnson Doe. Kpone Landfill Organization (Accra, Ghana)