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University of the Western Cape (2020)

An analysis of livelihood of landfill waste pickers in South Africa

Mudavanhu, Naome

Titre : An analysis of livelihood of landfill waste pickers in South Africa

Auteur : Mudavanhu, Naome

Université de soutenance : University of the Western Cape

Grade : Philosophiae Doctor - PhD (Social Work) 2020

Due to high levels of unemployment many people in South Africa have sought work in the informal sector of the country’s economy. The activities of landfill waste pickers therefore came about because of this. Landfill waste pickers recover recyclables on mountains of waste and sell to different Buy Back Centers (BBCs) in their areas. Despite the hardships, working on unbearable working conditions and poor income, landfill waste pickers have managed to sustain their livelihoods. The aim of the study was to conduct an analysis of the livelihoods of landfill waste pickers in South Africa using the sustainable livelihood framework. The study adopted both qualitative and quantitative research approach using multiple case study strategy of inquiry. The population of the study was the landfill waste pickers at the selected landfill sites and material recovery facility. Convenient sampling was used to select the research sample. Data was gathered through observations, semi-structured one-on-one interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, and document analysis to involve multiple sources of data. The research study took place in the following provinces of South Africa namely Western Cape, North West, and Eastern Cape. Out of these provinces the following municipalities were selected for the study Stellenbosch and Oudtshoorn (Western Cape), Potchefstroom and Vryburg (North West) and Graaff Reinet (Eastern Cape). Themes were identified using the elements of sustainable livelihood framework (SLF) and thematic analysis. SLF was used to analyse and present findings under the following elements of SLF vulnerability context, livelihood assets, transforming structures and processes, livelihood strategies and livelihood outcomes. After using a robust approach in analyzing the livelihoods of waste pickers the main outcome was that waste pickers are trying to make a living and they are entrepreneurs. The study also showed that it is important that waste pickers need to be integrated into the waste management system but not to formalize or regulate them. But ultimately give them support so that they continue to do their work better in better conditions.


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