Supporting the rights of waste recyclers in Delhi





Chintan, located in Delhi, supports the rights of wastepickers or waste recyclers: persons who earn an income from the house-to-house pick up of waste, the sale of scrap materials and recycling. Waste recyclers are not unique to India, but represent a global workforce.

According to the UN Population Fund, over the next two decades, global population growth will be entirely urban. In 2008, 50% of the world's population already lived in urban areas. Urban population growth is a major issue in Asia with 60% of the world's population, which itself will double by 2030. Although in India, the increasing population rate in urban areas is for natural reasons (more births than deaths), persons from rural areas are also migrating in large numbers to urban areas primarily for economic reasons.

Waste recyclers are often near the lowest-rung economically and socially of Indian society and the work may involve entire families. The job is marred with health and safety dangers, and harassment from police and municipal officials as well as from the general public based on their class, caste and religion. Chintan advocates along with waste recyclers at local, national and international levels to define and advocate for their rights. It fights for clean and safe work for urban poor, works with communities to phase out children from waste recycling and conducts trainings for waste recyclers and police.


In December 2008 and March 2009, WITNESS conducted video advocacy trainings with Chintan along with our Peer Ally in India, Video Volunteers. Chintan and WITNESS then worked together to produce Counterbalance, a video which advocates for the inclusion of waste recyclers as valuable private players in the waste and recycling management in Delhi. The video was launched April 16, 2010 and announced in the Huffington Post. Bhola, a main character in Counterbalance, introduced the film and campaign to dozens of local waste recyclers. Chintan and waste recyclers are now screening the video to government representatives.

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