Empowerment of Waste Pickers

It is roughly estimated that there are 1 – 1.3 million manual scavengers in India either employed by municipal bodies
or contractors or working under daily wage system. The various studies show that in India, the rag pickers form the
base of hierarchy of informal sector of the solid waste management. In municipal bodies, their primary role is of
sweeping the streets, besides they still engage manual cleaning of dirt and waste in public or private latrines,
open grounds, streets, public places, etc. sweeping of housing colonies, hospitals, offices, markets, etc. open or
underground drainage cleaning.

Gujarat too has long history of Valmikis involved in manual scavenging work; they
live in the most unhygienic conditions and with very limited basic amenities. They are the most neglected community
and deprived of the mainstream development benefits. This community does not have the basic skill or education to
aspire and access the better opportunities that currently emerges in the urban sector. Ground situation is that they
still engage in manual sewerage cleaning services offered by the government agencies and corporations. Quite many
number of women and men of this community engaged in waste picking and waste collection for their livelihood. With
the recent rapid urbanization & introduction of Smart City has resulted in forcible eviction and the crisis of
housing and livelihood for the urban poor.

The smarty city development and expansion adversely impacted the urban
the waste pickers community very particularly. They have been displaced from their original habitat/ settlements and
livelihood locations. Besides, the administration plans to engage the corporate bodies to set up whole process of
Waste Recycling Management (Circular Job). As the waste pickers have been contributing significantly to maintenance
of city’s cleanliness and hygienic condition. With the introduction of the corporate companies, the traditional
waste pickers may lose their livelihood and faced with no economic option (Loss of livelihood),if they have not
been integrated into the Solid Waste Cycle Management system of the municipal corporation.

CfD has started the mobilisation of waste pickers since 2020 and formed Ahmedabad Waste Pickers Association (AWPA),
there are around 560 members and more will be joined.

The objectives of the AWPA are,

  • Mobilisation & Organisation – Formation of Waste Pickers Collectives.
  • Training & Orientation (Skill based training / Alternative Occupation training)
  • Occupational Training (The hazards and protection/ safety guards)
  • Collection of Domestic waste – Sorting at the source
  • Setting up Collection & Sorting Centers- Further segregation for processing.
  • Setting up Solid waste Reclining Units.
  • Products Standardization & Marketing

CfD has provided safety kits and identity cards to 378 waste pickers and more will be provided.