Deepa (name changed), a 36-year-old transgender woman, had to flee her home in southern India when she was 18. She came to Delhi and subsequently underwent sex reassignment surgery. Recalling her days in the capital, she says, “I used to beg in trains and at traffic signal junctions for survival. During marriages or other celebrations, I would go to people’s houses demanding money”. She further adds, “Society treats us with disdain because of who we are and what we do. However, lack of viable job opportunities forces us to resort to these methods of earning a living”.
In this blog, we discuss the key findings emerging from our study—supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and conducted in partnership with the Technical Support Units (TSUs) of the states.
Urban waste pickers face several intertwined challenges such as low incomes, limited education, poor health, social marginalization, and domestic violence. In Bengaluru, India, 3ie is currently evaluating an initiative called Saamuhika Shakti, which adopts an innovative ‘Collective Impact’ approach to improving the lives of informal waste pickers. The initiative, just like the problems it looks to address, is complex.