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Context: India is home to more than 4 million waste pickers, who are the backbone of traditional waste management in most Indian cities.
Key challenges that waste pickers face
Roadblocks to their Upliftment
Unavailability of Data: In 2018, the UNDP India started working with Safai Saathis through its Plastic Waste Management programme. However, the paucity of data on this community led to obstructions in devising programmes and policies to support Safai Saathis.
Lack of Formal Education: The survey of the socio-economic conditions of Safai Saathis showed that they are employed mainly on the margins of the urban informal sector.
Obstructions in Formalisation: More than 90% of the workers reported owning an Aadhaar card - in line with broad national trends, but only a tiny subset owned an income, caste, or occupation certificate.
No Health Insurance: As per the UNDP survey, less than 5% of those surveyed had any health insurance, indicating very high degrees of health-shock vulnerabilities.
Not Connected to Government Welfare Schemes: Out of the total Safai Saathis, surveyed, who had a bank account, only 20% were linked to the Jan Dhan Yojana — the government’s flagship financial inclusion programme.
Key Steps can be taken
Short term measures
Long term measures: There is a need for a comprehensive welfare framework to design social protection schemes explicitly for Waste pickers.
Finally, alternatives like technology-led circular economy models that eliminate the need for any person to do this hazardous work manually need to be explored.
By: Shubham Tiwari ProfileResourcesReport error
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