Waste Pickers Movement Makhanda

A collective of waste pickers came together to form an organisation to advocate for environmentally and economically sustainable waste management that encourages dignity, fairness and justice for the workers. The organisation was born from an initiative to build a community garden to help combat the poor nutrition of the pickers living on the dumpsite.

What skills and resources were you able to draw from the community for this project?

We drew on the journalism skills of one of the founders to create positive media and conversations about the pickers. We have also received funding from Radio Music Grahamstown to buy tools for the garden. 350Africa.org funded various workshops to create solutions to climate change and pollution.

The challenges

We want waste pickers to be recognised for their contributions to the waste management industry and the formal economy. We also want the pickers to self-represent and tell their own stories rather than being spoken for by journalists and organisations who do not understand the complexities of life on the dumpsites. We also want to reduce plastic and electronic pollution and illegal dumping of medical waste.

Addressing the challenges

We have started a garden that could feed the pickers. We have also held workshops to up-skill pickers. The group has also engaged with various Makana media platforms to shift attitudes towards the pickers.

The achievements

- Started a garden - Raised funds for tools (rakes, wheelbarrow, spades etc.) - Created positive media in local paper, Grocott's