Philippines: 6000 Informal Garbage Workers to Benefit from Japanese Grant

June 18, 2012

New project to help raise incomes, provide alternative jobs for informal workers in dumpsites

MANILA, JUNE 18, 2012—Close to 6,000 informal garbage workers and collectors in several areas in the country are expected to benefit from a US$3 million grant extended by the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) for a project designed to improve their incomes and livelihood.

Administered by the World Bank, JSDF supports community-driven development and poverty reduction projects for the poorest and most vulnerable groups in developing countries.

The project called “Social Inclusion and Alternative Livelihoods for the Informal Waste Sector” will be carried out by the Solid Waste Management Association of the Philippines (SWAPP), a non-profit organization composed of solid waste management practitioners from local government units, national government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the academe.

“We are helping LGUs, communities, and the private sector improve their capability to manage solid waste problems in their respective areas through research, training, technical assistance, information exchange, and network building,”said Ms. Grace P. Sapuay, SWAPP’s Executive Vice President. “This partnership with the World Bank and JSDF will greatly boost our programs while helping the less fortunate.”

The project will provide support to the informal garbage workers and itinerant waste buyers located in five (5) cities and municipalities which are modernizing their solid waste management systems. Support will also be provided to informal waste sector participants that are members of existing recycling cooperatives in Metro Manila.

Under the country’s Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 9003), local government units are required to modernize their solid waste management practices and convert open dumpsites to sanitary landfills. These changes may affect the livelihood of garbage workers and itinerant waste buyers.

“This grant, which is intended to improve the livelihood of informal garbage workers in selected areas and provide better opportunities for them, will thus help address the impact of the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” said World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi who signed the grant agreement for the Bank.

“This is a very important project because it helps address the plight of one of the most marginalized groups in society—men, women and children earning a living from garbage,” Mr. Konishi added.

Tens of thousands of people in the Philippines work informally collecting, segregating and selling wastes. These groups, referred to as the “informal waste sector,” earn a living either in dumpsites or collect waste from households.

They are commonly migrants with limited opportunities and assets, living as informal settlers on or near dumpsites or in informal settlements, making limited and unstable incomes from garbage.

Informal garbage workers (waste pickers and itinerant waste buyers) are commonly unable to access livelihood opportunities through formal, safer or more lucrative means because of constraints like lack of education and basic livelihood skills as well as limited access to startup funds for small business.

“We are pleased to be a partner of this great initiative because it fits squarely with the mission of JSDF, which is to deliver direct benefits to the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. We do hope that this grant could make positive tangible effects in the lives of informal garbage workers in the selected project areas,” said Mr. Takahiro Etchu, Financial Attaché of the Japan Embassy in Manila, who witnessed the signing of the grant agreement between the World Bank and SWAPP.

As part of the modernization programs for waste disposal sites, some of the grant money will be used for investment in equipment, bins and carts; formalization of the sector through registration, recognition and contractual arrangements; and improving working conditions, including the health and safety of informal workers.

Recycling cooperatives will get technical assistance for expanding their business operations and sources of income including litter cleanup and cleaning services, collection and transport, and curbside recycling. The Project will also provide training for entrepreneurship and job placement.

Established in June 2000 by the Government of Japan and the World Bank, JSDF has been a leading source of grants for innovative social programs aimed at alleviating poverty around the World, with a special focus on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. It was established in response to the impact of the East Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s.

Since its inception, JSDF has provided over US$460 million in project grants to support over 260 social development programs and projects in 69 eligible low and lower-middle income countries.


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