United Nations Development Programme to help waste segregation workers access government schemes

Source: The post is based on the article “United Nations Development Programme to help waste segregation workers access government schemes” published in The Hindu on 30th November 2022.

What is the News?

United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) is implementing Plastic Waste Management Programme in India.

What is Plastic Waste Management Programme?

Objectives of the programme: Create a socio-technical model for taking plastic waste management from the informal to formal economy by helping them access government welfare programmes. 

– Establish Material Recovery Centres for sustained practices in waste management

– Institutionalize Swachhta Kendras within governance framework structures and improve the socio-economic conditions of waste pickers. 

Achievements under the programme: The project is currently operational in 36 cities with 22 Material Recovery Centres (Swachhta Kendras) established for sustainable waste management practices.

— The plastic collected and processed so far has already crossed 66,000 metric tonnes.

— The programme ensures the well-being and financial inclusion of the `Safai Sathis’ or waste-pickers by linking them to the social protection schemes like the `Jan Dhan’ accounts, `Ayushman Bharat’, pension schemes, and scholarships for children among others.

Who are Safai Sathis, and what are the issues faced by them?

Safai Sathis or waste-pickers are the backbones of traditional waste management in most Indian cities. They are predominantly women.

UNDP survey has shown that the ‘Safai Sathis’ are employed mainly on the margins of the urban informal sector. 

Their low income and job security are compounded by the fact that nearly 70% come from socially- backward groups and over 60% have no formal education.

More than 90% of workers reported owning an Aadhar card but only a tiny subset has an income, caste, or occupation certificate. This thwarts any attempts at formalizing their work and limits their access to government social security schemes.

Moreover, less than 5% of those surveyed had any health insurance, indicating very high degrees of health-shock vulnerabilities.

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