The Alliance of Indian Wastepickers is more than a decade old national coalition of organizations working with waste-pickers and other informal waste collectors. The alliance was created to have coordinated efforts to ensure inclusion of waste pickers in various national level programmes. Organizations/members of the alliance represent more than 40000 waste-pickers and other informal waste-pickers in India. Secretariat of the alliance has been rotating amongst member organizations starting from Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), Pune. After that, Bangalore based organization of wastepickers- Hasiru Dala hosted the secretariat for 3 years. Currently, the Secretariat of the coalition is hosted by Stree Mukti Sanghatana.
- Policy analysis and recommending policy measures to all levels of governments- Union, state and urban and rural local governments, different departments within each level of three-tier governments, for the inclusion of waste pickers and informal waste collectors in solid waste management and social protection measures.
- Capacity building of member organizations and municipal authorities to facilitate the integration of waste-pickers by undertaking training sessions on social entitlements, financial literacy, organic and dry waste management.
- Research focusing on waste management techniques, informal waste chains and status of waste-pickers and informal waste collectors.
- Awareness generation about the role played by waste-pickers and informal waste collectors in keeping the cities clean, mitigating climate change and contributing to manufacturing. In other words, waste-pickers and informal waste collectors are the important link between Swachh Bharat, India’s commitments for mitigating climate change and Make in India.
- Helping the member organizations to strengthen themselves by providing networking platform to learn from each other.
Eligibility and process to become the member of the alliance:
Waste-pickers groups and groups working with waste-pickers can become the members of the Alliance of Indian Waste-pickers. It is suggested that one or two members of the alliance should give the recommendations for those who are aspiring to become the member. Further, one of the network members (or coordinator or convenor) is invited to visit the interested organization’s field of work to learn about their work with waste-pickers.
The alliance has a Programme Committee for taking the decisions. Some of the members of the alliance volunteer to be a part of the decision-making body. There is a deliberate effort made to ensure that the diversity of the network is represented in the programme committee.
The network structure is very loose. There is no membership fees. The members are encouraged to make a contribution in whatever ways they find possible. In past, some members have hosted workshops and meetings for the alliance members. They organized it with their own resources. In some meetings, members travelled on their own. Members have committed lunch or food arrangements in some of the meetings. This is considered as the contribution towards the network. The membership of the alliance extends to more than thirty-four cities and ten states. There is an online Google-group and few Whatsapp groups for regular communication within the network. Once the membership is accepted, the new members are immediately added to Whatsapp and Google Group for regular updates.
If you want to be the member of the alliance, you can reach out to the Secretariat of the Alliance- Alliance of Indian Wastepickers, C/o Stree Mukti Sanghatana, 31, Shramik, Royal Crest, 1st Floor, Lokamanya Tilak Vasahat Road No. 3, Dadar (East), Mumbai – 400 014, Maharashtra, India. Tele-Fax: +91 22 24174381 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use this email form.
Recommendations to Government of India for Waste-pickers’ inclusion
Some of the recommendations made by the Alliance to the Government of India for inclusion of waste-pickers in Solid Waste Management Rules 2016
- Waste-pickers and informal waste recyclers should be identified, registered, authorised and integrated into the solid waste management system by local governments. Thereby, should be recognized and identified as green collar workers.
- Occupational Identity cards should be issued to waste-pickers by the local/Municipal governments with the involvement of waste-pickers’ collective.
- Sorting (secondary segregation/ fine segregation) should be recognized as a crucial activity in SWM. Space for sorting and temporary storage of recyclables should be made available for waste-pickers in a decentralized manner.
- Waste-pickers should be afforded free and easy access to recyclables at source of generation as well as at secondary storage, material recovery, transfer, processing and disposal facilities.
- Introduce a comprehensive EPR policy under both Municipal Solid Waste and Plastic Waste Management rules to tackle difficult streams of waste such as sanitary waste, multi-layered packaging etc. and providing support to waste-pickers in collecting and diverting low value recyclables.
- Manufacturers of sanitary products like diapers, sanitary napkins etc. should be required to provide uniquely marked leak proof bags for the safe disposal of each individual product.
- Waste-pickers should be allowed to retain the waste collected by them.
- State and local governments should promote integration of waste-pickers into solid waste management systems by:
- Incentivizing formation of membership based organisations of waste-pickers including self- help groups, cooperatives, unions and companies.
- Preference for integration into door-to-door collection and processing facilities
- Authorize waste pickers to collect user fee from the beneficiaries of their services
- Handing over management of material recovery and other waste processing facilities to collectives of waste-pickers.
- Training and capacity building of waste-pickers in fine sorting, composting, bio-methanation and scrap shops management
- Provision of safety equipment, social security and health benefits to waste-pickers, including inclusion in housing schemes, food and security measures (for their children) as priority.
- National, State and Local policies/ strategies/ plans should be made in consultation with waste-pickers and their organisations.
- Waste-pickers should be involved in monitoring and advisory committees.
- Viability gap funding, tax concessions, credit at low rate of interest etc. should be made available to participants in the informal waste recycling sector.
Link provided to the letter addressed to then Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
The Alliance played an important role to push for issuance of occupational identity cards to waste-pickers