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Theme: Informal Economy
Occupational Group(s): Waste Pickers
Region(s): Colombia ; Latin America & the Caribbean
By Noriega, Christina.

Federico Parra, a regional coordinator of the research and policy network, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), says there may be a link to the importance of women’s roles in households and their leadership status in cooperatives.

Bogota Colombia How Bogotá’s Recicladores are Picking a Fight (for inclusion) Resource . (5 June 2017)
By Simon, Rachel.

"As the city rises up the development index, Bogotá’s waste services are undergoing structural transformation. Rachel Simon learns how Colombia’s waste-picking recicladores are fighting to play their part as services are commercialised, and to do so with better pay, recognition, and condition."


This article includes an interview with WIEGO Waste Picker Specialist Federico Parra.

Colombia Garbage Collector Rescues Books From The Trash For Low-Income Kids. The Huffington Post . (1 March 2017)

Proving that one person's trash can certainly be a child's treasure.

Colombia Talking trash: Bogotá's recyclers fight for justice Deutsche Welle (DW) . (12 April 2016)
By Stern, Rachel.

Nohra Padilla was 7 years old when she began working at the foot of a municipal landfill in the Colombian capital, Bogotá. Every day, she sifted through mountains of trash to find plastic, metal and other scrap materials to sell, contributing to what had become her family's livelihood after fleeing violence in rural Colombia.

By March, Carlos.

Norah Padilla embodies the difference between a strong woman by birth and a woman hardened by life. She experienced all the evils derived from extreme poverty and this tempered her humanity. She suffered the painful shortcomings of indigence and this deepened her understanding. She endured the most unfair inequalities and this made her become a crusader for the rule of law. Norah is one of the major Latin American referents of urban recyclers.

Colombia World Cities' Day . (31 October 2014)
By Hughes, Kendra.

October 31, 2014 marked the first World Cities Day celebration. World Cities Day was established by a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in December of 2013. According to UN-HABITAT:


"World Cities Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and challenges in urbanization and contribute to sustainable urban development in cities and towns around the world."


The theme for the first every World Cities Day was "Leading Urban Transformation". To mark this day, Guardian Cities in partnership with UN-HABITAT held the World Cities Day Challenge. The Cities Day Challenge asked for representatives or organizations to submit a written description of their city's best idea in hopes that great ideas could be shared among cities around the world. The only caveat for the idea was that it had to be already or about to be implemented. From these submissions, 36 finalists were selected to present their city's idea in three-minute presentations which were followed by a question and answer session with a panel of judges and the public via a live blog and Twitter. Based on the questions and public response, a challenge winner was selected.


Federico Parra, WIEGO's Regional Coordinator for Waste Pickers in Latin America submitted an idea to the Cities Day Challenge for Bogota, Colombia related to efforts made to recognize and remunerate informal waste pickers. The submission, titled, "Let’s recognize, promote and compensate the work of waste pickers" was selected as one of the 36 finalists. On October 31st (the first ever World Cities Day), Federico presented Bogota's great idea - the recognition, promotion and remuneration of waste pickers via a video presentation and highlighted reasons why other cities should adopt Bogota's idea:


"Because recognizing waste pickers as an integral part of the solution to urban waste management, promoting their organizations, and remunerating their work, are crucial ways to make a more humane, more sustainable and more inclusive city."


Thanks to support for the project via social media and votes from the panel of judges, Federico's submission for Bogota was awarded third place in the Cities Day Challenge. First place was awarded to Porto Alegre's Gabriel Medeiros Gomes for Which Bus Stops Here – a project to create blank bus stickers on which city residents can write down bus route info while second place was awarded to Izmir's Can Sucuoglu for the floating docks project.


Federico's video presentation for the Cities Day Challenge which discussed Bogota's waste pickers can be found here.


Federico's submission and the judges' questions for the Cities Day Challenge can be read here.


Full coverage of the Cities Day Challenge via the Guardian Cities live blog can be found here.

Colombia Colombia's President Reinstates a Mayor He Ousted The New York Times . (23 April 2014)
By Neuman, William.

Colombia - Residents of this capital city may feel as if they are suffering political whiplash after President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday reinstated the mayor that he had removed from office only a month earlier.

Colombia India Spain Waste-picker from city loses chance to speak at world forum The Indian Express . (30 March 2014)

With the Spain Embassy refusing to provide transit visa, a woman waste-picker from Kagad Kach Patra Kashtkari Panchayat (KKPKP), who had been invited to speak at the World Urban Forum 2014 to be organised in Columbia on “Urban Equity in Development”, had to cancel her plan.

By Neuman, William.

Protestors gather in Bogota to protest the ousting of Mayor Petro

photo: New York TImes


A political battle continues to play out in Bogota, where the country's powerful inspector general is trying to remove Bogota's mayor from office, which could have a devastating impact on the city's waste collectors.


The conflict has captivated the nation since inspector general Alejandro Ordóñez ruled in December that mayor Gustavo Petro  had violated a law when he switched Bogotá’s garbage collection from private companies to a city-run service.  Ordóñez is ordering Petro to be barred from political office for 15 years.


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  • Presently, 9,000 waste pickers are now being paid by the city of Bogota but their livelihoods are uncertain if Mayor Petro is forced to step down.

Visit our web page to read more on this issue:
Waste Pickers in Bogota Lend Support to Mayor Gustavo Petro

Colombia Trashing democracy in Bogotá: the real issue behind the mayoral crisis The Global Urbanist . (21 January 2014)
By Olga Abizaid, Melanie Samson and Federico Parra.

The career of Gustavo Petro, mayor of Bogotá, is on the line after allegations that he mismanaged the city's waste collection contracts.


While global media is focused on the implications for the peace talks with the Farc, Melanie Samson, Federico Parra and Olga Abizaid of WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing) argue that focusing on how this action is bound up in the fate of informal recyclers reveals the challenges faced by local governments everywhere in creating more just and equitable cities.