65 pc waste pickers have no formal education, number higher among disadvantaged groups: UNDP

Six out of 10 Safai Sathis reported having a bank account while only 21 per cent of them reported access to Jan Dhan Yojana. An even lower number of Safai Sathis reported use of digital payment methods.

New Delhi: Around 65 per cent of the surveyed waste pickers or Safai Sathis reported to have no formal education and this percentage is higher among socially disadvantaged groups, according to a new report by the UNDP.

More than half of its respondents worked as itinerant waste pickers, street sweepers and waste pickers at landfills, and work categories that are highly informal in nature, according to the analysis.

Socially disadvantaged groups and those with no formal education were more heavily concentrated in such informal work, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India’s baseline analysis of the socio-economic situation of Safai Sathis, released on Tuesday, stated.

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The analysis is one of the first large-scale assessments conducted in India, covering 9,300 Safai Sathis in 14 cities.

The survey was undertaken as part of Project ‘Utthaan Rise with Resilience’ under UNDP’s Plastic Waste Management Programme. Utthaan is UNDP India’s COVID-19 response, enabling Safai Sathis to access government schemes and build more resilient communities.

Six out of 10 Safai Sathis reported having a bank account while only 21 per cent of them reported access to Jan Dhan Yojana. An even lower number of Safai Sathis reported use of digital payment methods.

Except for Aadhar and voter cards ownership of which was reported by more than 90 per cent and 60 percent Safai Sathis, respectively all other forms of identifications such as birth, income, caste, and occupation certificates were found to be severely lacking across the community, the report stated.

About 50 per cent of the Safai Sathis reported owning and using a ration card.

The health insurance coverage among Safai Sathis was below 5 per cent while temporary sheds and rented housing were reported as the most common forms of accommodation.

More than 90 per cent of Safai Sathis reported having access to continuous drinking water supply, while 80 per cent availed electricity. Access and use of sanitation facilities were reported only by 60 per cent, it said.

Among the Safai Sathis, wood-based fuels for cooking were recorded at par with cleaner alternatives, the report said.

Safai Sathis play a key role in plastic recycling. With the findings and evidence from UNDP’s first-ever comprehensive analysis on their socio-economic status, we will work with urban local bodies and government departments to build programmes and outreach that have a meaningful impact on their lives, said Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP India.

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