Thursday, June 8, 2023
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Waste pickers need targeted assistance: Deo

The Pacific Recycling Foundation (PRF) says there is a desperate need for strategies and targeted programs to improve the living and working conditions of families engaged in informal waste picking around the country.

Founder Amitesh Deo said there is a need for intervention from relevant Government agencies, civil society organisations and development partners to support their efforts.

“These groups of people need targeted assistance and empowerment programs as they have been faced with unimaginable struggles for decades including a great deal of stigma.”

He said PRF is well placed to work with these communities and is also in the process collecting relevant data on all individuals involved in waste picking.

Deo said a team from the Foundation recently toured various parts of Viti Levu where they met and heard stories of individuals who turned to collecting and selling recyclables to put food on the table, and some are facing stigma such as rejection, discrimination and labeling from the society and even their relatives.

“The PRF team visited a community in Tauvegavega in Ba who are involved in waste picking at the rubbish dump in Maururu.”

“Women and men from this community have to walk up a hill and through bushes to reach the dumpsite.”

“They spend the whole day at the dumpsite collecting recyclables and, in the process, go through very dangerous and difficult conditions.”

“These women and men then have to carry large sacks full of recyclables to their homes where they sort the materials and prepare the load.”

“These families do not have any other source of income and are totally dependent on waste picking.”

Deo further revealed that it was heart-wrenching for their team who observed a separate group of people scavenging for food at the dumpsite.

He said his team was told that these people would come at the dumpsite as soon as trucks would offload expired food items that would have been removed from the shelves including frozen items.

“We also visited communities in Naria, Saweni and Kulukulu who are also involved in informal waste picking and facing enormous challenges on a daily basis.”

Factors like drop in world market prices for recyclables, adverse weather conditions, irregular income and a lack of social support have a negative impact on the livelihoods of waster pickers; hence the Foundation is calling on authorities to put in place mechanisms to support their daily struggle.

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports |


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