March 2021

Enhancement of Livelihood Options and Increase in Income of Waste Pickers

Authored by Jalajakshi C K, Head - Consulting, LabourNet & Nabesh Bohidar, Regional Programme Manager, CARE India

Enhancement of livelihood options and increase in income of waste pickers and their families is an important goal of the Saamuhika Shakti project. CARE India and LabourNet are addressing this issue through multiple strategies. This includes

  • Providing adequate vocational and life skills for those who want to seek alternative employment
  • Training waste pickers or family members on entrepreneurship skills
  • Forming strong collectives of waste pickers and / or their families to avail more opportunities and enhance economic gain
  • Collectivization of workers at DWCCs for enterprise development; creation of an enabling environment providing linkages to entitlements and market actors for economic inclusion
  • Ensuring all programs are designed keeping gender sensitivities in mind

Though the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns severely curtailed movement and placed restrictions on face to face training, it did not deter the work on the ground. Adopting hybrid models (combination of face to face and virtual) and establishing the training centers next to the intervention area helped overcome challenges placed on travel and in person meetings.

When it comes to the approach taken to address the specific intervention of improving livelihood means, CARE India and LabourNet have adopted synergistic and measured training processes to overcome the challenges faced by the community.  

Baseline Research

CARE India in coordination with LabourNet completed a baseline study in November 2020. The research provided basic information about the waste picker community which have been used to inform and adjust the strategies adopted as needed for this intervention. The study was started following IRB approval in September 2020 and took inputs from 265 respondents.

Key findings are presented below:

Program Design

CARE India, with presence in 55 locations across 8 zones in the city, actively works to strengthen women’s groups and DWCC workers, identify skills gap and competencies, and provide life skills and entrepreneurship training with linkages to value chain actors in the field. Over the course of the three-year project, CARE India hopes to touch more than 2400 beneficiaries. As of March 2021:

  • 500 participants have completed life skill training
  • Two training or Sustainable Employment and Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) Centres have been established
  • Psychometric assessments in 5 locations have been completed, with the rest in process.
  • Collectivization support activities are currently ongoing at 10 locations
Photo Credit: LabourNet

LabourNet focuses on identifying specific gaps related to vocational skills (basic and advanced) and links to market actors for employment and entrepreneurship. To achieve the goal, LabourNet has adopted a three-pronged approach – Workshops, Centre Based Skilling, and Entrepreneurship Development Program. LabourNet has completed short term skilling and workshop training for over 1000 candidates to date.

  • Workshops: Different workshops are conducted for candidates in candle-making, hand-embroidery, mehendi designs, paper bag making and related soft skills
  • Center Based Skilling: Across 6 training centers, 2-month long training programs are organized. Here the courses cover trades such as Tally, tailoring, computer basics, electrician / masonry training, photoshop among others
  • Entrepreneurship Development Program: Deserving candidates are identified and tailored programs to help them start a venture are provided

On ground, these plans translate to:

  • Basic and advanced vocational skill building trainings ranging from stitching, candle making to electrician, masons, Tally, photoshop among others
  • Life skills lessons to build confidence, improve communication, leadership and financial / computer skill and competencies and psychometric assessment
  • Entrepreneurship lessons provided to those with aptitude and willingness along with the resources to startup and/or to strengthen existing businesses
  • Women collectives/groups in the community are strengthened to improve economic prospects. Further, collectivization of DWCC workers to help them form enterprises/SHGs of their own
  • Dialogues in the community and within each household on gender sensitisation and behaviour change
Photo Credits: CARE India

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