Pro poor market facilitation approach improves lives of informal Solid Waste workers

                                                              

Pro poor market facilitation approach improves lives of informal Solid Waste workers

Practical Action
Solution proposed by: 
Practical Action, with local partners: Centre for Integrated Urban Development (CIUD), Solid Waste Management and Resource Management Centre (SWMRMC), UN-Habitat Water for Asian Cities Programme Nepal, Nepal Reuse and Recyclable Goods Entrepreneurs Associ
In a Nutshell: 
This project strengthened the capacities of the most marginalized informal waste workers in Kathmandu Valley around collective bargaining for better prices and enhancement of entrepreneurial skills, with a strong focus on creating a legal association for decent employment and introducing social protection schemes to improve income generation and working conditions.
Where and When: 
This innovative waste management solution funded by the European Commission was implemented between 2011 and 2014. The project targeted the most marginalized informal waste workers in five municipalities of the Kathmandu valley (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Madhyapur Thimi and Kirtipur).
Challenges: 
Informal waste workers are among the poorest in Kathmandu. Most live in squatter settlements and make their living by selling materials collected from dumpsites, bins and along roadsides. They are exposed to social stigma and health risks and are unable to fight this exploitation due to a range of factors including lack of bargaining power, illiteracy, and lack of market information and skills which could help them add value to the materials they collect. None of the current policies include social protection. They are self-employed with no formal relationship with the municipality or recyclable traders
Innovation: 
The double focus adopted by this project is at the core of its innovative design. Applying pro-poor markets approaches to urban solid waste management, targeted business capacity development, and introducing appropriate technologies was a very efficient solution in addressing the appalling working conditions of informal waste workers, especially women and children. This was complemented by the creation of adequate social and health protection schemes and a proactive awareness-raising campaign for waste-worker social recognition. This project showed how this combined approach to solid waste management to can address social, health, economic and environmental issues in an urban context.
Concept: 
The overall objective was to improve the living conditions of informal workers in the solid waste management sector. It also aimed to improve waste services for residents and protect workers' interests. Two particular concepts were applied. First participatory market systems development helped identify opportunities for improving value reaching waste pickers. It does this by bringing together all the market actors across the whole system, doing joint market mapping exercises, and helping improve relationships so barriers are identified and solutions identified. Second, social protection schemes would provide better access to health care, education and other essential services. The project had a particular focus on the most vulnerable workers – i.e. women and children from diverse ethnic minorities - having limited alternative options for earning a living. The project was designed to enable these marginalized groups group to take advantage of improved livelihoods opportunities through business capacity development around solid waste management
Description: 
Practical Action initially identified over 8,300 informal waste workers, in majority women and children, to take advantage of business opportunities in the sector. The project strengthened capacities of non-state actors and other stakeholders to engage effectively with the targeted marginalized groups for social recognition and protection. The project contributed to a significant improvement of security conditions for workers by introducing social protection schemes to improve income generation and working conditions, including the introduction of health care, savings and credit mobilization schemes, and the creation of an association of informal waste workers (SASAJA), through which it channeled business development support to 25 waste management SMEs. Safety equipment was provided to 5,622 workers. In total, 1700 IWWs were recognized through health care centers and SASAJA, the cooperative associated with micro finance, saving and credit activities. By its end, the project registered an increase in income for 1527 of them. The PRISM project also aimed at enhancing technical and entrepreneurial skills of the IWWs. The implemented activities focused on breaking existing market barriers and enhancing market literacy. In order to strengthen the solid waste market system, the project developed a participatory action plan to improve waste market system, supply chains and effective delivery of the services. By the end of the project, 566 IWWs (30% women) received enterprise and skill development training; amongst them 144 IWWs have initiated enterprises. In addition, 322 IWWs initiated enterprises without training. 500 IWWs (30% women) now benefit from better price of recyclable waste provided by scrap dealers. In total 1000 IWWs are now better informed about the price of recyclable wastes for increased bargaining power by end of action. 716 IWWs have received access to micro-finance to initiate small and micro enterprise and 615 IWWs received support from saving and credit services
Impacts: 
The project had significant social, economic, health and education impacts. Informal waste workers benefitted from long term entrepreneurial skills training and are now working under a cooperative that guarantees their access to social and health protection schemes and an increase in income that led to improved access to education for children. The solid waste market system has developed in a more inclusive manner and now offers a 25% increase in prices for recyclable waste collected by informal workers and other small processors, which makes waste management a profitable business and more sustainable service in Kathmandu.

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photo credits:     Practical Action
photo credits:     Practical Action
photo credits:     Practical Action
photo credits:     Practical Action
photo credits:     Practical Action