Improving the environment and the livelihoods of waste pickers

  • Amount funded: £86,897
  • Year: 2016
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Locations: South Africa
  • Grant stream: Annual Grants Call

Informal waste pickers play a critical role in collecting and recycling the waste of South Africa's major cities, but their role is not well recognised.

Project partners
Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organising
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How we are helping

Supporting WIEGO's project to organise waste pickers to effectively engage in decision-making to secure better working conditions, improve livelihoods and their recognition.

About the project

Approximately 108 million tonnes of waste were generated in South Africa in 2012; 90% of this waste ended up in landfills. On these sites, and in inner-city streets, informal waste pickers are collecting and recycling what others have thrown away, a service for which they are not paid.

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) will support waste pickers and their organisations in Johannesburg, Sasolburg, and Pretoria, South Africa, to effectively participate in decision-making in order to secure better working conditions and improve livelihoods. The research in many cities suggests that the formal inclusion of waste pickers in municipal waste management contributes to higher recycling rates, increased efficiency and cost effectiveness, as well as significant environmental benefits. Despite these contributions, waste pickers in the project locations struggle for formal recognition and inclusion in solid waste management plans, and for decent working conditions and fair compensation.

Through this project WIEGO will support the organising efforts of local waste picker organisations, to ensure the official inclusion of waste pickers in municipal waste management policies and systems, and to secure better working conditions and more secure livelihoods. This will be achieved through training, awareness-raising (both for waste pickers and decision makers), and facilitated negotiations and liaison with key officials and allies. Further, waste picker organisations will be strengthened within the context of vibrant regional, national, and international networks.

Endorsed project title: Improving the environment and livelihoods of waste pickers in South Africa.

Project Partners
Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organising

WIEGO is a global action-research-policy network that seeks to improve the status of the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy, through increased organization and representation; improved statistics and research; more inclusive policy processes; and more equitable trade, labour, urban planning, and social protection policies. Alongside informal workers, WIEGO uses its credible, grounded knowledge of the informal economy to leverage supportive policies, services, and resources for the working poor.