Junaid ul Shafi & Nalini Shekar
The year 2020 was catastrophic for all sectors of the global economy, but the informal economy was most impacted. The pandemic and lockdown destroyed the livelihoods of those working in informal recycling. In those turbulent times, Hasiru Dala stood with waste-pickers and other informal workers. It ensured that no worker sleeps hungry or is evicted from their place of residence due to lack of income. The organization created special programs designed for the community to ensure the children do not miss their regular education and the elderly and sick have access to medicine and health care. The reliance demonstrated by the community during the pandemic has given strength and zeal for Hasiru Dala to do more.
The new year marks the initial year of a new decade and is a year of hope for Hasiru Dala. The organization is hoping to scale and expand its reach in the years to come. It has been successful in establishing a model of waste management in the city. The Bangalore municipal authorities (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Pallike- Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation) have rewarded them by allotting space in the new residential colonies to set up Dry Waste Collection Centres (neighbourhood recycling and other inert waste sorting and aggregating centre). In this new year, Hasiru Dala is going to expand its mission of turning waste pickers into entrepreneurs. The organization will be managing dry waste collection centres in 59 wards of the city covering an estimated 981,511 households and commercial units. These centres will serve approximate 4 million of the population and will cover 29.7% of the city. Hasiru Dala will be providing training to the waste-pickers and other informal waste collectors who will run these centres.
Extended producers’ responsibility is taking centre stage as a policy measure in waste management across the country. Hasiru Dala will focus its work in this area with all stakeholders to implement the policy through an inclusive and consultative process with waste pickers and other informal workers. Hasiru Dala hopes to create equal opportunity avenues for workers in the formal or informal economy.
The key for integration of informal workers is to create traceability of waste movement. This has been a significant challenge because of low literacy and secrecy maintained in the informal economy. Hasiru Dala has trained many waste-pickers about the importance of traceability of material movement and developing technology platforms.
Market shocks and external challenges have devastated the lives of workers who are involved in the process of waste collection or separation. To mitigate the impacts of market shocks and to create stability, the organization has recently established a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) at Kamlipura in the city. The given facility is the first step. It is hoped many more MRFs will be set up in the city for waste-pickers to operate and manage.
In the area of education, Hasiru Dala is going to expand its Buguri Community Library from the existing three cities to an additional three more cities: Hubli-Dharwad, Davangere (Karnataka) and Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh). This has become a very important strategy for the organization to keep children in school; especially girls. There is a genuine fear that children will drop out of school because of household loss of income.
The organization hopes to continue its health and nutrition program in the next year, which was started as a response to lockdown. During the lockdown, malnourishment among children in India rose significantly.
There is hope that Hasiru Dala with the help of stakeholders will be successful in creating a bright, sustainable ecosystem for waste-pickers and other informal waste collectors.
Hasiru Dala is a social impact organization headquartered in Bangalore and spread across three states of South India, working for waste-pickers and other informal waste collectors.