Rubbish affects women and people with disabilities most
In some of the poorest places on the planet, social enterprises are being set up to provide household rubbish collections, dispose of waste safely, and turn as much of the waste as possible into items such as organic compost or paving bricks made from recycled plastic.
These social enterprises aim to create jobs and empower women. Bonded labour is a big problem in informal waste collection in poorer communities, and the workers are often women. The work carries a strong social stigma and significant health and safety risks.
Within the waste management projects that we help support, there is an aim to ensure that low-paid, vulnerable waste pickers are incorporated into the business models and provided with dignified, adequately paid work in a safe environment. A percentage of the people trained and employed will be people living with a disability.
All employees will receive training, dignified job titles, uniforms, safety equipment (such as face masks and gloves), health insurance and a living wage.
A safer neighbourhood
The services provided by the projects are also important for people living with disabilities. A door-to-door rubbish collection service replaces the need for them to go to unhygienic waste dumping sites that are often sited in dangerous places such as on steep riverbanks.
There’s no waste collection in Rubina’s neighbourhood. Rubbish is left in the streets or people burn it to get rid of it.
Rubina’s son, Tariq, suffered burns from playing in the rubbish. Her elder son, Javed, who’s disabled, has serious respiratory problems.
‘He feels pain because of the smoke and I have to take him to hospital for oxygen.’