After 3 weeks of the Pacific Recycling Foundation’s Mapping Exercise of the Waste Collection Sector in Fiji, 1,059 people have been identified, comprising 472 females, 570 males, and 17 belonging to the LGBTQI+ community
Founder of the Pacific Recycling Foundation and CEO of Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited, Amitesh Deo made the revelation following the exercise which covered the whole of Viti Levu as well as Labasa and Savusavu.
Deo says these numbers include those that have been interviewed and profiled around the country as well as some individuals that may have been missed due to reasons which will be revealed in the report, to be released next month.
He further says of the 1,059 individuals, 675 are fully dependent on waste collection as their primary source of income while 379 individuals stated that their secondary source of income is derived from waste picking.
The PRF Founder says many of these individuals do not have access to clean water, toilet, and hygienic places to have meals while waste picking with 186 people revealed they use the bushes as their toilet.
He further says these individuals are exposed to many risks, particularly health risks which have a direct impact on the sustainability of their livelihoods.
Deo says the PRF’s Mapping Exercise of the Waste Collection Sector in Fiji has been done in partnership with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and through the support of partners such as Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Asco Motors and Tourism Fiji, has allowed the Foundation to gain deep insights into the practices of both formal and informal waste collection sector.
He further says there have been a number of cases where those involved in informal waste picking are facing unimaginable challenges of homelessness and poverty.
The PRF Founder says a woman who collects and sells recyclables was found living in an abandoned house wearing wet clothes despite the cold weather and displayed little concern for her discomfort and carried on with the conversation.
He further says this endurance underscores the harsh realities she faces daily, yet remains resilient in her pursuit of survival. The CEO says the woman displayed signs of resentment and fear, expressing reluctance to engage in an open conversation and these signs pointed to a possible traumatic response from past experiences.
He further says recognising the need for immediate support, the woman has been referred to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre for counseling and other necessary support.
The PRF’s Mapping Exercise of the Waste Collection Sector is being done through a questionnaire interview which focuses on the socioeconomic and environmental conditions, living conditions, access to basic services and amenities, and work-related challenges of those involved in waste picking.
Through this mapping exercise, the PRF aims to create a comprehensive database of those involved in waste picking, which will be useful for policy-makers, researchers, and other stakeholders.
Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations