Urban waste pickers in Kathmandu (PRISM)

Poverty Reduction of Informal Workers in Solid Waste Management (PRISM), Nepal

Country: Nepal
Locations: 5 Municipalities in Kathmandu Valley
Date: June 2011-May 2014
Project Manager: Srijana Devkota
Implementing Partners & Associates: 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 Association (NRRGEA)

Funder: European Union 'Investing in People' programme

Project overview

Urbanisation in Nepal is increasing at an alarming rate with an increase from 3-17% in the last 5 decades. Due to lack of appropriate employment opportunities, a large number of workers in the informal economy are engaged in waste-related work. In the Kathmandu Valley it is estimated that are 10-15,000 waste pickers and 700-800 Kabadis (waste/scrap dealers). Although these workers play a vital role in dealing with the waste generated in the Valley, the profession is considered shameful and degrading, and its contribution is unrecognized by society as well as local and state authorities.

Urban waste pickers are among the poorest people in Kathmandu valley. Most live in squatter settlements along the riverbanks. They are exposed to many health risks through unprotected handling of waste materials, and due to their poor living conditions. The waste picking profession is despised by the rest of society, despite its contribution to removing and recycling large quantities of waste. Waste workers are often exploited socially and economically. They find it hard to fight this exploitation due to a range of factors including their lack of bargaining power, illiteracy, lack of market information, and lack of skills and technology which could help them add value to the materials they collect and recycle. None of the current policies or plans includes social protection provisions which could help improve the situation, and raise the status of the profession.

Working in 5 municipalities of Kathmandu valley, the overall objective is improving the living conditions of informal workers in the solid waste management sector. It will also improve waste services for residents and protect workers' interests. The specific objective is to enhance the social protection of informal sector waste workers and vulnerable groups dependent on waste for their livelihoods.

Expected Results:
1. Strengthened capacities of non-state actors and other stakeholders to engage effectively with target groups for social recognition and piloting innovative social protection schemes
2. Enhanced technical and entrepreneurial skills of the informal sector workers and vulnerable groups in solid waste management for better incomes, secured livelihoods and safer working environment
3. Strengthened solid waste market system to become more inclusive and pro-poor
4. Developed and disseminated key learning documents and collaborated amongst SWM informal sector workers and organisations for inclusive social protection to influence policy makers and other stakeholders

Who we aim to help:
The project targets around 4,000 waste workers, with all having an increase in health and safety leading to better health outcomes, 2,000 having increased incomes, and 1,000 having access to affordable health care and insurance. We expect that at least 50% of beneficiaries will be women.

PRISM - changing the lives of informal waste workers

This booklet brings forth the voices of our beneficiaries of the Poverty Reduction of Informal Workers in Solid Waste Management Sector project, so that their story of change is well documented and available for everyone to experience.

Poverty Reduction of Informal Workers in Solid Waste Management Sector (PRISM)

Project leaflet for PRISM project (PIN 5000319) which aims to improve the living conditions of informal workers in the solid waste management sector in Nepal. In English and Nepali.

Best practices on solid waste management of Nepalese cities

This book contains a range of best practices on solid waste management from various municipalities of Nepal. It also contains the admirable initiatives of national and local NGOs/CBOs. It is hoped that this book will be highly instrumental regarding solid waste management to urban centres as well as emerging towns of developing countries.

Informal Waste Workers: Deserving Respect for their Contribution

The PRISM project organised a Behaviour Change Campaign (BCC) on 25 March 2013 with an objective of gathering respect and recognising Waste Worker’s Contribution in the Solid Waste Management Sector in Nepal.

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Activites 2011-12

The project identified nine social protection schemes crucial to support the IWWs – health care, child protection, micro-finance/cooperative, saving and credit mobilisation, safety net, women protection, preventive health care, cash transfer, and issue of identity card. Out of these schemes, the project has piloted programmes under three schemes. Under the Child Protection Scheme, 171 IWW children have gained access to school education. Seven Women’s Groups are formed and have started informal education under the Women Protection Scheme, and after implementation of Saving and Credit Mobilisation Scheme, 127 IWWs have started saving their earnings.

Forty groups of IWWs consisting of waste pickers, scavengers and recycler have been formed among the identified beneficiaries. Seven among the 25 are women groups. These groups are formed to mobilise IWWs to establish saving practices, provide informal education and raise awareness on health care services and income generating activities. Group management training were conducted to the newly formed groups to build their capacity and raise awareness on social protection and recognition. Sixteen group management training was conducted where 261 IWWs participated.

Practical Action conducted various activities to change the perception and behaviour of the IWWs and raise awareness on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). Eighteen health camps were conducted which was attended by 1,024 IWWs. Other activities include street dramas, psycho social observation, cleaning campaign and school level poem competition.

Sustainable urban environment

The Sustainable Urban Environment programme aims to improve urban environment and the livelihoods of the urban poor through promotion of sustainable waste management and, water and sanitation.

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Press cuttings

Press Release from the EU Delegation in Nepal marking the official launch of the project, 8th July 2011.

Coverage of the project launch in The Himalayan newspaper, 8th July 2011.

Ambassador of the delegation of European Union to Nepal, Dr. Alexander Spachis, distributing the safety equipment to the workers

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