Photo Credits: Pinky Chandran/Marwan Abubaker

Saamuhika Shakti

Saamuhika Shakti, the initiative in Solidarity with Waste Pickers aims to improve the quality of life of informal waste pickers and their families in Bengaluru. Our vision is to enable the waste pickers’ community to have greater agency to lead secure and dignified lives. The combined estimated population of informal waste pickers in Bengaluru is over 22,500, and despite being a critical part of the city’s solid waste management ecosystem, the waste pickers and their families suffer a lot of hardships and challenges.

This is a first of its kind project in India where different partner organisations are joining forces to take a holistic approach to improve the living conditions of  informal waste pickers. It also has a strong focus on equity, addressing the basic needs of marginalized groups such as women and girls in waste picker households. This project is supported by the H&M Foundation and follows the ‘Collective Impact’ methodology.

Current situation

Street waste collectors, itinerant buyers, and sorters in scrap shops and dry waste collection centres (collectively referred to as informal waste pickers) are a vital part of the waste management system in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) region. However, waste pickers and their families (including children) struggle to lead healthy and productive lives, despite their economic and environmental contribution to the region, and despite several commendable efforts by key actors to improve their lives.

They earn low and unstable income, operate in hazardous working conditions, and face discrimination due to a negative societal perception of the profession.
They lack reliable access to quality housing, education, healthcare, and WASH services, precipitated by socio-cultural norms.

Women and girls in waste picker families are particularly vulnerable as they are disproportionately impacted by these challenges.

Photo Credits: Saamuhika Shakti/ Vinod Sebastian

Community we serve

Saamuhika Shakti interventions are designed to reach the target population of waste pickers as well as their family members and their community.

Informal Street Waste Collectors

Informal street waste collectors collect recyclable waste from streets / dumps, and sell to scrap dealers.

Itinerant
Buyers

Itinerant buyers collect recyclables from households / businesses, and sell to scrap dealers.

Sorters in
Scrap Shops

Sorters in scrap shops sort different categories of recyclable waste at scrap shops to make it ready for sale.

Sorters in
DWCCs

Sorters in DWCCs*: Sort different categories of recyclable waste at DWCCs to make it ready for sale.
*Dry Waste Collection Centre

What we aim to achieve

Higher & Stable Income

Waste picker families have higher and more stable income

Improved Working Conditions

Waste picker families have improved/ safer working conditions

Career Transition Pathways

Waste pickers have the ability to move to alternate professions if they so desire

Access to Affordable Services

Waste picker families access affordable and quality services enabled by the public sector (e.g. education) and private sector

Support System

Establish support systems for survivors of violence and substance abuse among waste picker families

Respect & Recognition

People of Bengaluru recognise and respect the value of waste picking
*Women and girls, and other vulnerable groups, have equitable access to the above outcomes

Strategies for collective success

Joint data-driven decision making

Regular communication and sharing of resources

Effective coordination of common activities

Intentionally influencing key system actors

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