Waste pickers seek empowerment

2017-04-26 06:01
Various concerns were raised by waste pickers who attended the recent recycling workshop hosted by the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation(Denc) at the city hall on Friday (21/04). Agnes Malinga of the department made a presentation on waste picking.Photo: Boipelo Mere

Various concerns were raised by waste pickers who attended the recent recycling workshop hosted by the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation(Denc) at the city hall on Friday (21/04). Agnes Malinga of the department made a presentation on waste picking.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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Waste pickers in Kimberley who collect waste informally to sell for recycling purposes are concerned that their work is not properly regulated and that they are being ripped off.

This emerged after a workshop on Friday (21/04) in the city hall, hosted by the Department of the Environment and Nature Conservation (Denc), in partnership with the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

According to some of the waste pickers, they do not harvest the profits of their hard work as the prices of waste are being regulated by only a few people in the province.

According to Agnes Malinga of the department, the workshop was held to build up a database of the waste pickers in preparation for a training workshop that is planned by the partners.

The attendants decided to establish a forum in an effort to better themselves in an attempt of working with the department and the municipality in terms of empowerment.

She said the decision follows concerns raised by the waste pickers – who regard themselves as entrepreneurs – that they are not empowered enough and that they would like to see intervention from the side of the municipality.

Malinga said the department is also concerned by health hazards caused by accumulation of waste in people’s yards.

This accumulated waste cause rodents to come into the yards, causing serious health hazards.

She said the department saw the workshop as a positive start towards turning such concerns into positive spin-offs

“Our only interest is to see a clean and healthy environment.”

She highlighted that the health of the people and a clean environment goes hand in hand and that it was the departement’s priority.

According to Malinga, nothing is being done at the moment to protect waste pickers from being exposed to toxic and hazardous waste because they are not an organised group.

“We currently do not know who we are working with, that is why we need a database to deal directly with them.”

“The only people that are known are those who frequent the departmental offices and they have received training and bins as a form of assistance,” she added.

The planned training workshop will be in partnership with the Sol Plaatje Municipality in May.

Malinga urged waste pickers to educate children in recycling, through teaching them to separate waste at home.

Jerry Jacobs, one of the waste pickers, was pleased that now they will not be working in solo but in unison.

“As a businessman in waste management, I know all the challenges that almost everyone in this room faces.

“We have to stick together and speak in one voice because we have a common goal.

“That way we will be much clearer and get the assistance that we need, unlike approaching the department individually,” said Jacobs.

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