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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About « Waste pickers Around the World (WAW)

What is the Waste Pickers Around the World (WAW) Database?

The WAW database is the sum of several existing databases with information about waste picker organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It was a multi-year process commissioned by WIEGO from 2009 to 2013. It is an ongoing effort to merge all the different datasets into one comprehensible and well-maintained database. Ultimately, our aim is for waste picker organizations and supporters to be able to complete the information themselves and update it when needed. Check the list below to see the different databases that have been used.

Who is the WAW database for?

Waste pickers are workers in the informal economy who represent, according to several institutions (ILO, World Bank, and others), 1% of the urban population. They are not part of official statistics, therefore it is challenging to understand how many of them are organized or what their organization types are. For the first time ever, we are able to state approximate numbers of organizations worldwide and countries where organizations exist, the type of organization, its scope and its supporters. This information is meant to be used by both waste picker organizations for solidarity and networking purposes as well as researchers and institutions interested in the informal recycling sector.

Where does the data come from?

Some of the existing databases were the result of different research efforts. The names of the different data sets are listed below:

  • WORD (WIEGO Organizing and Representation Database): a dynamic resource providing information on organizations that organize workers in the informal economy and is maintained on an ongoing basis. The core information from WAW database came from WORD, which is commissioned by Chris Bonner and is available at
  • Africa 2009: a study was commissioned by Melanie Samson in 2009 on behalf of WIEGO.
  • Africa 2010: a study commissioned by Melanie Samson in 2010 on behalf of WIEGO.
  • Africa 2011: a study conducted by Melanie Samson and Jennifer van den Bussche in 2011 on behalf of WIEGO.
  • Africa 2012: a study commissioned by Melanie Samson in 2012 on behalf of WIEGO.
  • Africa 2013: data collected by Kapita Tuwizana in 2013 on behalf of WIEGO.
  • Asia 2013: data collected by Malati Gadgil in 2013 on behalf of KKPKP and WIEGO.
  • AIW 2013: data collected by Nalini Shekar in 2013 on behalf of AIW and WIEGO.
  • Red Lacre 2012: a study conducted by Lucia Fernandez and Maria Eugenia Duque Daza in 2012 on behalf of WIEGO.

The source of information corresponds to the date of the last update.

Example: “WORD 26/08/2011” as the last update of that entry was made on 26/08/2011.
If there is no date information it would say “WORD”.
If there are multiple sources of information, the sources are separated by commas “WORD 26/08/2011, Red Lacre 2012”. As some databases don’t have a specific date for when the surveys and compilations were made the year the data was collected is provided.

How do I cite this database?

Information extracted from the database (statistics, maps, and specific information provided at WAW site) should be cited as follows:

  • Fernández, L., Pena Pan, J., & Rey-Mazón, P.  (2014). WAW: Waste Pickers Around the World Database. WIEGO. Retrieved from

For more information about this database and clarifications you can consult the WAW Code Book.