Today (01 March 2022) Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) joins the progressive world in commemorating the 2022 International Waste Pickers Day, which is a global commemorative day set to recognize the efforts of waste pickers and to focus on the challenges they are facing in their livelihood enterprise.
As we commemorate the International Waste Pickers Day, MIHR recognizes waste pickers as environmental justice stewards, climate justice champions and waste heroes. Waste pickers (majority being poor women) in Zimbabwe and the world face multiple forms of human rights violations that include gender based violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, poor service delivery in waste picking spots (such as poor water access), very low pricing models, restrictive laws and policies that criminalize waste picking sector, unfair discrimination, lack of coordination/organization, and failure to access local authority, exposure to hazardous and poisonous substances and government project funding opportunities. On this day, we therefore call on:
- The government of Zimbabwe to recognize waste pickers as informal workers who are not only contributing to environmental justice but also to the economic development of Zimbabwe, as well as the protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms;
- The government of Zimbabwe to avail affirmative action support and funds to support waste pickers and enhance their waste picking enterprise including transforming the legal and treasury policy measures to be supportive to waste pickers;
- The Bulawayo City Council and all local authorities in Zimbabwe to transform their local authority by-laws and policies to be responsive to the waste pickers cause and thus decriminalize waste picking;
- The business community (especially waste recyclers) to reform their waste pricing models and pay waste pickers better prices that recognize and a cognizant of the time and labour involved in the waste picking process.
- The waste pickers themselves to work together and be organized (through their forums like the recently established Bulawayo Female Waste Pickers Association) in order to speak together with one voice thus defend and promote their rights. We also urge them to be responsible and avoid littering where they do waste picking.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) is a registered non-profit organization based in Bulawayo and exists to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights in Zimbabwe. The organization is currently implementing a Bulawayo Women Waste Café project which empowers female waste pickers with their rights and assist them to transform the waste picking industry to be gender responsive and human rights based. The project is also empowering female waste pickers (inclusive of women and girls) to be able to challenge gender based violence norms and practises, access civil documentation, claim their rights and access economic opportunities.
Mr Khumbulani Maphosa (MIHR Coordinator)
Cellphone/Whatsapp: +263 771730018