Bolivian women join forces to collect waste in La Paz neighborhood

La Paz, Dec 17 (EFE).- Every morning, Hilda Mamani and her mother walk the streets of Irpavi, a neighborhood in La Paz, searching garbage containers for recyclable materials to re-sell.

Mamani learned how to sort and recycle from her mother, Aveline, a skill that today provides for her family.

They are part of a group of 40 women, mostly indigenous Aymaras, who have joined forces as part of a project launched by the Swedish International Development Agency in Bolivia.

‘Zero Waste Project’ aims to enable women to make more money by working as a team as well as contributing to the environment.

“The project seeks to contribute to the work that they do, making it more visible and dignifying,” Rocío Maldonado, advisor to the project, told Efe.

Most of the women have been collecting waste for years, but they were doing it alone, selling the collected materials to intermediaries at low prices and competing with each other.

Today, thanks to the project, they are able to generate larger volumes of waste and sell directly to the companies at higher prices by working as a team.

Their work is also more visible at the community level, raising awareness on pollution and the environment within the neighborhood.

Santusa Pairumani has been working as a ragpicker for 15 years, providing for her six children and husband.

She used to buy waste from other collectors and make a very low margin of profit. But since joining the team at ‘Zero Waste Project’, she goes directly to restaurants and supermarkets to collect materials, allowing her to make a much higher profit.

It is estimated that Bolivia generates more than 7,022 tons of garbage per day, of which only 4 percent is recycled.

This week alone, the women collected over 1,000 kilos of PET bottles.EFE


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