The Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-being Research has just been published and we are proud to say that it also includes work by our colleague Prof Derick Blaauw. The research is about street waste pickers in Pretoria and he has provided us with an excerpt:
Summary of key characteristics of street waste pickers in Pretoria:
“The average street waste picker in Pretoria is between the ages of 40 and 49, male, black, mostly unskilled, has a low level of education, and exists outside the formal employment sector. The typical street waste picker earned around R50 per day in 2010 in Pretoria. It is therefore evident that waste pickers do not earn enough to support a family, but engage in this activity in order to survive and sustain themselves. It is very difficult to support his dependents. It does little to strengthen family ties, as his family live in a remote rural area.
Most waste pickers were observed as working independently, but they stayed together at night, sleeping in groups on the streets of the city as a measure of protection against criminal activities. They are forced to make use of the goodwill of the buy-back centres and filling stations for basic facilities such as water and toilets, and if these are not available, open spaces and natural resources are used. As most of the street waste pickers are from the rural areas, they sleep and live on the streets, and in the bushes and along the rivers. They sleep and cook on the pavements, as they have no other facilities.
If local government, recycling companies and NGOs were to consider acknowledging the waste pickers as a valuable link in the waste management chain, they could contribute to a solution by collaborating to improve the quality of life of these people, to the benefit of both the waste pickers themselves and the general public. This could take the form of the provision of basic amenities such as water for consumption, personal hygiene and washing clothes, toilets and shelters. These people are valuable members of the community because of the contribution they make to the urban informal economy of the country and therefore they deserve more attention from policymakers in South Africa.”
The full reference is:
Derick Blaauw & Rinie Schenck (UWC) (2014). Street Waste Pickers in Pretoria, South Africa. In: Michalos AC (Ed.). Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, pp 6347 – 6352.
You can find the encyclopedia here.