CataSaúde Viraliza is an online capacity building project for waste pickers (organized and autonomous) in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is financed by the Open Society Foundation and WIEGO. The project was codesigned and is being implemented by partners including WIEGO, MNCR (the National Movement of Waste Pickers in Brazil), INSEA (Nenuca Institute for Sustainable Development), ORIS (The Observatory for Inclusive Recycling), Núcleo AlterNativas de Produção-UFMG and Pimp my Carroça. The online capacity building course seeks to discuss themes such as:
- Decent work and reduction of risks during the pandemic;
- Challenges in the context of the pandemic;
- Economic impacts and the recycling chain beyond the pandemic;
- Current threats and strategies regarding incineration, extended producer's responsibility, amongst others; and
- Mapping of advocacy strategies.
The project also seeks to encourage and strengthen solidarity among organized and autonomous waste pickers. Beyond Brazil, CataSaúde Viraliza will promote exchanges among waste pickers in Latin America in hopes of sharing experiences and strengthening regional solidarity.
CataSaúde’s Governance Structure
The project is internally organized through a general coordination group with representation from partners and through Working Groups, such as:
- Pedagogical Working Group: with participation from the general coordination group and pedagogical team, this working group is responsible for the general review of content and format of the project.
- Content Working Group: this working group is responsible for the planning of content and learning tools for the waste picker groups. This working group holds weekly meetings on content and organizes workshops with the online whatsapp facilitators and waste pickers’ mobilization team.
- Communication Working Group: this working group is responsible for producing communication materials and for providing technical and operational support on social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Youtube. It co-produces materials with the waste pickers’ mobilization team.
- Communication/Mobilization Working Group: this group is composed of representatives of organized and autonomous waste pickers who provide tutorial and communication support.
In addition, the project also has a team working on the curation of art education materials, which is composed of the coordination and representation from waste pickers and an art educator.
Testimonies from the Ground
CataSaúde Viraliza emerged from the need to respond to the pandemic and the deteriorating political, economic and social situation of the country, including the impacts on waste pickers. This collective project reinvented ways of connecting waste pickers across the country and of doing popular education in a digitalized world. Here are some testimonies of our partners and workers.
“CataSaúde is a milestone, a game changer just like Cataforte, the national government capacity building project, which trained more than a thousand waste pickers. This course gives us encouragement to grow.”
Madalena Duarte, waste picker leader
“The content helped clarify doubts on COVID-19. The course arrived at the right time and at a moment of a lot of psychological pressure. The participation in the group and Lives served as therapy for me.”
Evaldo Cristiano Garcia, non-organized waste picker
“CataSaúde can be characterized as resilience, interinstitutional actions, broadened governance structure, the management of subtleties and of teams at a distance. It’s also about innovation, diversity of languages and the dimension of care, including the powerful exchange of knowledge.”
Livia Ferreira, Project Manager
“The exchanges have been positive to discuss injustices, lack of recognition, forms of violence, but also the achievements in order to create a common base of strategies from the local to the national.”
Francisco Lima, Pedagogical Coordinator
“A challenge of the project is precisely one of its strengths: the collaborative governance amongst organizations that haven’t worked together before.”
Luiz Netto - Mobilization Manager
How it Works
The online capacity building takes place in three distinct online platforms. The classroom is on Whatsapp where there are specific moments for discussion of content and interactions. The second platform used is Facebook, which acts as a library for all content produced and for complementary materials. The third platform involves open, and interactive YouTube or Facebook Lives, which enables the exchange of experiences and quality content on thematic issues (with specialists) for a broader audience of waste pickers. The Lives always begin with short clown skits that are playful and educational.
The course is divided into four modules:
- Living with the pandemic in the waste picking sector;
- Improving selective waste collection systems and protecting waste pickers during COVID-19;
- Beyond the pandemic: economic strategies for waste pickers; and
- Building connections among waste pickers in Latin America.