A coalition of Bengaluru-based and international social welfare organizations on Wednesday launched a program in solidarity and support of informal waste pickers and their families in Bengaluru. Named Saamuhika Shakti— the program for the next three years will work to ensure higher and more stable income, improved and safer working conditions, ability to choose other choices of livelihoods, form support systems to help victims of violence and substance abuse and give them the due recognition of their work for the city’s sustenance.
Bengaluru has more than 22,000 waste pickers in the city most of them who belong to disadvantaged castes and minority groups, have low education levels and are from within Karnataka and outside. The large number of workers are made up of informal street waste collectors, sorters in DWCCs (dry waste collection centres) and scrap shops and itinerant waste buyers who go from house to house purchasing dry waste of low and high value. The coalition said although these workers pickers are a vital part of the waste management system in Bengaluru and contribute in significant measure economically and environmentally, they struggle to lead a healthy, productive and dignified life.
The organisations which are part of the programme are BBC Media Action, CARE, Hasiru Dala, LabourNet, Save the Children, Social Alpha, WaterAid and The Nudge Foundation. Sweden based H&M Foundation has committed $11 million for the first three years of the project, with scope for expanding it by three additional years.
“Spread across the BBMP geographical areas, waste pickers form clusters of communities often without even basic access to resources such as clean water or sanitation facilities, let alone opportunities to improve livelihoods and that of their children. Through Saamuhika Shakti, our partners and we hope to provide prospects that can lead to better outcomes, and in an equitable manner for waste pickers and their families,” said Lakshmi Pattabi Raman, Executive Director of Saamuhika Shakti, The/Nudge Foundation.