Solid waste management livelihood on Lagos dumpsite: analysis of gender and social difference
2016-06-24T15:08:22Z (GMT) by
Increasing urbanisation has increased waste generation. This has led to an increase in waste being left uncollected in certain areas of low-income countries. With the inability of municipal authorities to provide the required collection services, there has been the emergence of private sector initiatives in waste management. Nonetheless, this does not offer a complete solution as waste still adorns many of these streets. This however, provides sources of livelihood for the urban poor, both men and women. They can be found in virtually all cities in low-income countries occupied in collecting, recovering, sorting, and recycling waste materials. Their activity not only creates a means of livelihood for them but also ensures sustainability in solid waste management. In most low-income countries, women still enjoy fewer rights and access to assets and resources than men. Accordingly in Nigeria, women are highly represented in low paid employment. The emphasis in development on issues of equity and inclusion, and women s autonomy and empowerment shows that women still count among the most vulnerable and excluded social groups. This doctoral study examines the issue of women in solid waste livelihoods in Lagos, Nigeria. The focus of the study is to identify gender and other socially-related constraints to participation by men and women in solid waste livelihoods in five Lagos dumpsites. It also analyses how these constraints affect their income levels. The research draws on a feminist approach using mixed methods of participant observation, questionnaire survey and interviews. The fieldwork commenced with identification of waste workers activities on the five dumpsites through participant observation. This was followed by the questionnaire survey which was piloted, refined and administered face to face to 305 dumpsite workers. Findings from the questionnaire survey revealed gender differences amongst waste scavengers, waste buyers and waste merchants according to the following criteria: age, marital status, other income-earning household members, hours worked daily, years spent working, education level, and number of dependent children. These factors also further reinforce gender differences in income generation. Further enquiry through qualitative interviews highlighted gender differences in tool usage and the types of waste resources handled. Inequality was also evident in terms of social equality, political power and decision making. The results also highlight childcare as one of the most important challenges that women alone face. Other findings include the impact of current modernisation policies on women s financial security, autonomy, and well-being. The waste livelihood activities observed offer positive economic benefits, and incomes higher than the minimum wage. However, it is important for those engaged in modernisation policy to understand the potential impact of these measures on the livelihood of waste workers, and to ensure their commitment to change will not reinforce inequality.