Saamuhika Shakti, initiated by H&M Foundation, organized by The/Nudge Institute and supported by BBC Media Action, Sambhav Foundation and CARE India, Hasiru Dala, Save the Children India, Social Alpha and Water Aid India is a unique initiative to improve the quality of life of waste pickers in Bengaluru, India.
Waste collection in India is among the lowest of the country's informal occupations while being critical to the city's waste management system. There are about 1.5 million waste pickers in India, and despite their environmental and economic contribution to the country, they generally continue to struggle to lead healthy and productive lives.
Unfortunately, even today, most waste pickers face tough challenges on a daily basis, such as regular harassment and extortion, as well as health hazards they face. And if that was not enough, they are also not entitled to social benefits as they are self-employed without a formal legal relationship. India has one of the highest recycling rates of PETs, thanks to waste pickers. More than 90% of all PET produced in the country is recycled and reused. Realistically, waste pickers are the biggest driving force behind recycling.
Saamuhika Shakti takes a holistic approach to improve lives by supporting waste pickers in a number of ways. By facilitating communication between stakeholders and sectors, the basic needs of waste pickers such as education, health, safety, and access to basic rights are addressed and economic opportunities are improved. At the same time, this initiative focuses heavily on gender equality.