UNDP Assistance for Workers in Waste Segregation Industry

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is currently implementing initiatives to help people working in India’s waste segregation industry to shift to formal economy. As part of these efforts, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General Usha Rao-Monari will be distributing Jan Dhan account kits to waste segregation workers during her first visit to India on December 1. Opening of these accounts are facilitated through the UNDP’s plastic waste management programme.

UNDP’s plastic waste management programme

  • The plastic waste management programme was launched to promote the collection, segregation and recycling of all kinds of plastic waste to circular economy.
  • This is done at the Swachhta Kendra or material recovery facilities. These facilities have so far collected and processed more than 1,38,000 metric tonnes of plastic.
  • Its key objectives are:
  1. Creation of socio-technical model for converting waste management from informal to formal economy.
  2. Setting up of Material Recovery Centres to sustain the practice of waste management
  3. Institutionalization of Swacchta Kendras within governance framework structures
  • This programme, besides promoting effective management of plastic wastes, also ensures the well-being and financial inclusion of the Safai Sathis or waste pickers by linking them with the social protection schemes like Jan Dhan accoutns, Aadhar cards, Ayushman Bharat, pension schemes, scholarship schemes etc.
  • ‘Safai Sathis’ are mainly employed on the margins of the urban informal sector. They have very low income and do not have job security.
  • Nearly 70 per cent of Safai Sathis are from socially-backward groups and over 60 per cent of them do not have formal education.
  • While more than 90 per cent of the waste pickers have an Aadhar card, only few have an income, caste or occupation certificate. This prevents them from formalizing their work and limit their access to government welfare schemes.
  • Less than 5 per cent of these workers have any health insurance, making them highly vulnerable to the health-related financial shocks.
  • Only 20 per cent of Safai Sathis have Jan Dhan accounts.

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