The second round of a workshop to support waste pickers organizing in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, was held in January of 2013. The Congolese Women’s Right League, a StreetNet affiliate, with support from WIEGO, organized an event that brought together 30 waste picker delegates from Bandundu, Bas Congo and Kinshasa.
Waste pickers in Kenya are fighting to be heard. It has been a slow process of building solid organisation but it is showing results.
In the towns of Nakuru, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nairobi many people view pickers as trouble makers, especially as gangs sometimes operate from dumps. In fact the waste pickers are earning an honest living by collecting, sorting and selling metals such as aluminium, copper and iron as well as plastic bottles and containers, cloth, bones and organic waste.
Waste pickers in the Global South have something to celebrate. After intense campaigning in the last two years by GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative) and the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers, the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (see “Information on CDM” below) will withdraw support to projects that cannot provide evidence that they are not harming recycling efforts.
A truly strong waste pickers’ organisation has a collective leadership that represents its members who are active and make democratic decisions. For all elements to work together an organisation needs clear objectives, structures and rules. It needs policies and procedures. All of these things must be in writing for all members to see and should be formally adopted by the members. This is the organisation’s constitution.
“These waste pickers from Kinshasa are very creative,” commented Wiego’s (Women in Informal Employment Globalising & Organising) Kapita Tuwizana. “Being so poor has made them think in imaginative ways.” They collect garbage such as plastic, cardboard, metal like any other waste pickers but they also make new things from this waste and sell it.
Michael Hanna Shukri is an Egyptian who is working hard on a new waste picker’s union. We spoke to him about his work and organization.
What is your background? I am a young Zabaleen, which is the name of Cairo’s informal garbage collectors who started working in Cairo 80 years ago. I am 23 and I have been working for ten years. I am a member of the waste picker union and sit on the Spirit of the Youth’s board of directors. Spirit of the Youth is an NGO working with young Zabaleen which has spearheaded a campaign to start a union and helped it with money. Read more
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.
Pune2012: Sharing experiences of integration and inclusion in municipal solid waste management systems
SAWPA’S national exchange affirms waste pickers’ cooperative’s work in Mooi River and Pietermaritzburg
The South African Waste Picker’s Association (SAWPA) is in solidarity with waste pickers across the globe. We would like to commemorate the day of remembrance of all waste pickers around the world who die on the streets or landfills. Those Men and Women who we witness everyday being brutalized, beaten to death, shot, run over by trucks while trying to earn a living through waste recycling.
Meeting other informal recyclers from around the world during COP 17 and Global Recyclers’ Day shows me that we are being recognised world-wide and that our challenges are universal. It is also an incentive for me to continue working hard in this job.” Victoria Bubu