Audio: How Bangalore’s itinerant waste pickers transformed into “robust entrepreneurs”

Tue Jun 5, 2018
Occupational Groups: Waste Pickers
Regions: India, South Asia
Topics: Profiles

WIEGO has a unique organizational structure — we are a network of membership-based organizations, researchers, and practitioners, all working to elevate the voice and visibility of informal workers across the globe. We’ll be spotlighting our network throughout the year to understand more about what is happening on the ground and at the highest levels of change. Sign up here to follow this series 

In the first profile of this series, we speak with waste experts Nalini Shekar and Kabir Khan of Hasiru Dala, a waste picker organization based in Bangalore. 

In this 30-minute podcast, we learn about how waste pickers in this southern Indian city have made great headway in gaining recognition as skilled waste workers. 

Read more about waste pickers and their contributions and challenges.

We discuss how the organization got its name, Hasiru Dala, meaning “green force” in Hindi, and how the organization’s efforts to transform the image of waste pickers in the city have paid off. 

In 2012, the municipal corporation began registering Bangalore waste pickers, providing them with identity cards and now, in a pioneering move, the Bangalore municipal corporation has handed over the running of some of its innovative Dry Waste Collection Centers to the waste pickers themselves.

Listen to the full interview here:

We also discuss:

  • The launching of Hasiru Dala Innovations, a “for-benefit, not-for-loss” social enterprise focused on creating better livelihoods for waste pickers through businesses that have a positive social and environmental impact.
  • The challenges of professionalizing waste pickers and Hasiru dala’s wide-ranging skill upgrading programmes – from organic gardening to “green” event management.
  • How Facebook, WhatsApp, and other technologies have been harnessed by the organization and its members.
  • The progressive policies by the municipal corporation and the gaps in implementation.
  • The steps that still need to be taken to improve the every day lives of waste pickers.


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Feature Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage