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Waste pickers and collectors in Delhi: Poverty and environment in an urban informal sector


  • Yujiro Hayami
  • A. K. Dikshit
  • S. N. Mishra


Waste pickers and collectors constitute the bottom layer of waste recycling in the metropolis of Delhi. Pickers collect waste just by picking them up from public places such as garbage dumps and streets, whereas collectors purchase waste from waste producers such as households and shops for sale to higher-level waste traders. Most pickers have incomes below the poverty line set by the Planning Commission of India, whereas the majority of collectors earn marginally higher than the poverty-line income. The poverty of pickers is not transitory, but chronic as they have no connection to enter the community of collectors and higher-level waste traders within which the community mechanism works effectively to reduce risk and transaction costs. Despite their low economic and social status, pickers and collectors are making important contributions to society. It is found that pickers and collectors are adding more value than their own income to waste producers' income and to the saving of the city government's expenditure for disposing waste. Increased public support not only for social services, but also production services and infrastructure can be justified not only for the purposes of reducing poverty but also for furthering their positive contribution to society.

Suggested Citation

  • Yujiro Hayami & A. K. Dikshit & S. N. Mishra, 2006. "Waste pickers and collectors in Delhi: Poverty and environment in an urban informal sector," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(1), pages 41-69.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:42:y:2006:i:1:p:41-69
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380500356662

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    Cited by:

    1. Kurosaki, Takashi & Lal, Kaushalesh & Mangal, A. K. & Banerji, Asit & Mishra, S. N., 2015. "Entrepreneurship in Micro and Small Enterprises: Empirical Findings from a Baseline Study in Northeastern Areas of Delhi, India," CEI Working Paper Series 2015-7, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. repec:eee:resene:v:54:y:2018:i:c:p:109-124 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sudipta Bhawal Mukherji & Makiko Sekiyama & Takashi Mino & Bharati Chaturvedi, 2016. "Resident Knowledge and Willingness to Engage in Waste Management in Delhi, India," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-14, October.
    4. repec:bla:asiapr:v:14:y:2019:i:1:p:97-118 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Parizeau, Kate, 2015. "When Assets are Vulnerabilities: An Assessment of Informal Recyclers’ Livelihood Strategies in Buenos Aires, Argentina," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 161-173.
    6. BANERJI, Asit & GOTO, Jun & ISHIZAKI, Hironori & KUROSAKI, Takashi & LAL, Kaushalesh & PAUL, Shampa & SAWADA Yasuyuki & TSUDA, Shunsuke, 2018. "Entrepreneurship in Micro and Small Enterprises: Empirical Findings from Resurveys in Northeastern Areas of Delhi, India," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-65, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    7. Kala Seetharam Sridhar & A.Venugopala Reddy, 2014. "Contribution of the urban poor: evidence from Chennai, India," Asia-Pacific Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 21(2), pages 53-76, December.

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