Data

Location
Belo Horizonte
Brazil
Scope of Influence
name:scope_of_influence-key:citytown
Links
http://www.wiego.org/sites/default/files/publications/files/Dias_WIEGO_PB4.pdf
http://www.wiego.org/content/associa%C3%A7%C3%A3o-dos-catadores-de-papel-papel%C3%A3o-e-material-reaproveit%C3%A1vel-de-belo-horizonte-asmare
Videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTltsTN5-OM
Start Date
Ongoing
Yes
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Approach
Social mobilization
Advocacy
Civil society building
Spectrum of Public Participation
Involve
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Limited to Only Some Groups or Individuals
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
captive
Targeted Demographics
Low-Income Earners
Legality
Yes
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Negotiation & Bargaining
Type of Organizer/Manager
Community Based Organization
Labor/Trade Union
Type of Funder
name:funder_types-key:na
Staff
No
Volunteers
No
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Implementers of Change
Elected Public Officials
Stakeholder Organizations

CASE

The Empowerment of Belo Horizonte's Solid Waste Workers

First Submitted By Institute of Development Studies

Most Recent Changes By Scott Fletcher, Participedia Team

Location
Belo Horizonte
Brazil
Scope of Influence
name:scope_of_influence-key:citytown
Links
http://www.wiego.org/sites/default/files/publications/files/Dias_WIEGO_PB4.pdf
http://www.wiego.org/content/associa%C3%A7%C3%A3o-dos-catadores-de-papel-papel%C3%A3o-e-material-reaproveit%C3%A1vel-de-belo-horizonte-asmare
Videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTltsTN5-OM
Start Date
Ongoing
Yes
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Approach
Social mobilization
Advocacy
Civil society building
Spectrum of Public Participation
Involve
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Limited to Only Some Groups or Individuals
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
captive
Targeted Demographics
Low-Income Earners
Legality
Yes
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Negotiation & Bargaining
Type of Organizer/Manager
Community Based Organization
Labor/Trade Union
Type of Funder
name:funder_types-key:na
Staff
No
Volunteers
No
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Implementers of Change
Elected Public Officials
Stakeholder Organizations

Through community mobilization, Belo Horizonte’s ‘catadores’ self-organized, earning a formal role in government policy-making in the Waste and Citizen Forum and gaining ownership of recycling facilities.

Note: the following entry is incomplete. You can help Participedia by adding to it.

Problems and Purpose

Informal workers in the solid waste sector, catadores, represent a large group of citizens in Brazil, including in the city of Belo Horizonte, the focus of this case. While initially excluded and persecuted by the municipality, the catadores, whose livelihoods depend on claiming saleable waste materials, are now highly organised and integrated within formal Solid Waste Management processes.[1] 

Background History and Context

From the 1960s onwards, poor people started earning a living by recycling waste found on the city streets or collecting waste materials from businesses. Working conditions were poor and the catadores’ contribution to waste recycling was not acknowledged. In addition to not having their rights recognised, the catadores were viewed as beggars and criminals and faced discrimination by most citizens. Most slept in streets to guard their recyclables due to lack of storage areas.[2]

As catadores began to promote their right to earn a living from recyclables; a local NGO, Pastoral da Rua, saw the potential for them to organise and voice their priorities and demands. During the first administration of the Workers Party in the local government, officials sensitive to their cause and in some cases familiar with some of the groups and individuals came to power, creating an opening for the catadores to engage the municipal government.[3]

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

Local NGO Pastoral da Rua facilitated the organisation of catadores, ultimately leading to the establishment of the association of catadores in 1990.[4]

Participant Recruitment and Selection

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Methods and Tools Used

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What Went on: Process, Interaction, and Participation 

In 1993, the municipality signed an agreement with the Association of Waste Pickers recognising the importance of these workers. As a result, in 2003 the Waste and Citizen Forum was created by bringing together the local government, representatives of catadores and local NGOs to air conflicts and reach agreements. It aimed at discussing guidelines for requesting financial resources and supporting activities.[5]

Through the mobilization of the catadores, the municipality donated land for a plastic recycling plant, which opened in 2007. The plant is owned and managed by the catadores.[6]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The change from working in the streets with no organization into the semi-formality of associations supported empowerment, improvements in working and living conditions, and greater self-esteem; foundations for later development including a formal role in policy and ownership of recycling facilities.[7]

Nowadays, catadores are formally recognised, with collective identity and greater self-esteem. The city has regulated informal recycling and has addressed some social issues of the urban poor. New warehouses have been provided with roof covering and equipped with kitchen, toilets, sorting boxes and a scale, improving working and living conditions. Improved safety and access to childcare have supported women’s inclusion (up from 18 percent to 55 percent).[8] Challenges remain, including weak management capacity of the association affecting the reliability of collection and efficiency of the sorting of waste, and low use of safety equipment.[9]

In terms of spaces for participation in decision-making processes, they were closed and then invited: initially the policy-making happened behind closed doors and informal workers were not recognized. Later, following pressure by the catadores through their association, the local government invited the catadores and their representatives to discuss policy interventions after receiving pressure from them.[10] 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Once spaces had been opened through advocacy, there was a high level of cooperation between the government and the informal workers, which allowed catadores to push for specific policies.[11]

See Also

Community Mobilization

Project "Bairro Limpo": Community Waste Management in Brazil

References

[1] Sonia Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection: The Case of Belo Horizonte, Brazil (Online: WIEGO Policy Brief, May 2011), http://www.wiego.org/sites/default/files/publications/files/Dias_WIEGO_PB4.pdf.

[2] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 2.

[3] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 2. 

[4] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 2. 

[5] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 3.

[6] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 8. 

[7] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 2-4.

[8] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 7.

[9] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 10.

[10] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 3-4.

[11] Dias, Integrating Informal Workers into Selective Waste Collection, 4; 9. 

External Links

Associação dos Catadores de Papel, Papelão e Material Reaproveitável de Belo Horizonte (ASMARE)

CNN: “Garbage to gold: Brazil's catadores turn trash into art” https://www.cnn.com/2013/06/12/world/brazil-catadores-trash-treasure/index.html

Forbes: “No, Thank You. I Am Working: Brazil's Hands-On Environmental Solution” https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/07/12/no-thank-you-i-am-working-brazils-hands-on-environmental-solution/#7584af5e116f

Notes

The first submission of this Participedia entry was adapted from a research project by the Institute of Development Studies, 'Linking Participation and Economic Advancement’ licensed and reproduced under Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0). Original source: https://www.eldis.org/keyissues/mapping-participation-economic-advancement

Lead image: WIEGO Photo Library, http://bit.ly/2CSIQ1w