Skip to main content

Waste pickers face respiratory, musculo-skeletal, gastrointestinal ailments, social stigma

By Sheshu Babu*
In cities and towns, one often comes across heaps of garbage on roadsides and poor -- mostly slum dwellers, children -- hovering around the pile. These people are mostly ignored by authorities as well as rich and middle-class elites. Waste pickers are the lowest in the hierarchy of urban informal occupation.
The term 'waste picker' was adopted in the First World Conference of Waste Pickers in Bogota, Columbia in 2008 to facilitate global networking and supplant derogatory words like 'scavenger'. Work situation differs greatly across countries but the common thing is that this work is their livelihood and often supports their families.
Number of waste pickers in the country is not easily available. Some estimates city- wise have been recorded. For instance, in Ahmedabad, they are estimated to be about 30,000 mostly women and children. In the state of Gujarat, according to a study, there are estimated 100,000 waste pickers. Delhi alone has approximately 100,000 waste pickers according to another study. Pune has 6,000, of whom 72% are women, according to a study.
Brazil is the only nation that systematically captures and reports statistical data on waste pickers. Data collected by Brazil's official system found that over 2,29,000 did this work in 2008.
According to statistics published in 'Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture' e where wastepickers have been identified, they represent less than 1% of urban workforce: 0.1-0.4% in seven West African cities, 0.7% in South Africa (including both formal and informal waste pickers) , 0.1% in India.
These small percentages, however, represent large number of people. Because of the challenges of gathering data on waste pickers, the estimates may be low. According to some estimates, there are about 1.5 million to 4 million waste pickers in India. They segregate, clean, sort and sell waste to make a living.
An IEMS study found that majority of waste pickers had generally low levels of formal education. In many areas, the work was done by disadvantaged groups. For example in Pune, India, the work is largely confined to scheduled castes.
Waste picking is generally a family business with flexible working hours requiring little or no education. It is highly adaptable and can be learned easily with little training. For the poorest of poor in the world, it is one of the only livelihood options.
However, waste workers often face social stigma, poor working conditions and they are frequently harassed. They suffer from occupational related musculo-skeletal problems, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments. They face problems from both the police and municipal authorities. They have no social security benefits.
According to a study published in the "International Research Journal of Environment Sciences" titled 'Studies on the Solid Waste Collection by Rag Pickers at the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, India', 94% of the 150 waste pickers interviewed in the Jawahar Nagar landfill in Hyderabad stated that they choose this job as no other alternative was available to them. Thus, many of them are forced to work picking up waste.
With the concept of 'e-waste', solid waste management, recycling waste, have made the work of these pickers more valuable. As metals like iron, copper, etc can be extracted from the waste thrown out, these rag pickers can be a valuable addition to the chain of environmental protection cycle.
By gathering the material, they can help not only cleaning cities from garbage but also assist in the process of recycling and reusing material so that waste can be used without destruction. Society must recognize value of waste picker and must show compassion. Activists should struggle for uplifting these poverty-stricken workers and force governments to take note of their sufferings.
Many of them even work without a minimum wage. Decent wage and medical facility must be given to them along with education and nutrition to the children who are forced into working to feed their parents. Collection centers in cities should provide equipment for gathering and disposal of waste. For clean and green cities and towns (and even villages) , waste pickers are crucial and valuable .
---
*The writer from anywhere and every where supports the rights of poor and downtrodden

Comments

Rasel said…
Thank you for sharing this useful post with us. I have a business of manufacturing. Where i'm sell best manufacturer product. If you want to read more please visit this website.

TRENDING

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.