During the recent recess Derick Blaauw and Anmar Pretorius was part of a multidisciplinary research team doing fieldwork on a national survey of day labourers in South Africa.
The team consisting of Derick and Anmar from the NWU, Prof Rinie Schenck of Department of Social Work at the University of the Western Cape and Prof Nik Theodore of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) started off in Bloemfontein. Two days of reconnaissance was followed by a day of fieldworker training. Prof Theodore was inspirational in the training of the fieldworkers. The four fieldworkers were recruited from Free State University and the Central University of Technology. A trial run of the actual fieldwork commenced with the research team actively taking part in the fieldwork. The fieldwork went well and the results will be combined with the fieldwork in the rest of the country over the next year.
The team then went on further reconnaissance and the trip ended in Cape Town where Derick and Prof Schenck were guest speakers at a dialogue session organised by GreenCape, CSIR, and IWMSA on the 8th of October.
The aim was to derive recommendations on how to integrate the informal sector and SMEs into the South African waste economy. The informal sector has been active in the South African waste economy for more than two decades and plays an important role in diverting recyclables away from landfill towards recycling. However, in most cities and towns in South Africa, they are marginalised and operate at the fringe of municipal solid waste management systems. Waste and recycling co-operatives and SMEs are strongly promoted by government as a means of creating jobs. However, small businesses face numerous challenges and are failing to create sustainable jobs and income opportunities.
Industry, academia and government have partnered to address this issue in order to provide clear recommendations on how to integrate the informal sector and SMEs into the South African waste economy. This dialogue formed part of that work. Prof Schenck and Derick delivered an address entitled: Waste picking in South Africa. They have also been invited to take part in a roundtable discussion on Social Protection for Informal Workers in South Africa at the end of October in Pretoria. This is organised by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME).