NEWSLETTER ISSUE #6/2018      

Research excellence recognised

Professors Derick Blaauw’s and Anmar Pretorius’s research in recent years has taken them into the complex but fascinating domain of the informal economy, with a particular focus on the economically marginalised waste-picking community. Though vulnerable, waste pickers operating in the streets and on landfills are resilient and resourceful and display entrepreneurial abilities that enable them to endure harsh working and living conditions and uncertain financial returns. 

Developing a better understanding of the socio-economic dynamics amongst these people, which tend to be overlooked at the policymaking level, is particularly important for South Africa given its high levels of unemployment and deeply divided society. To this end Derick and Anmar are currently participating in a joint research initiative, under the guidance of Prof Rinie Schenck of the University of the Western Cape, which sets out to inform policies aimed at improving waste pickers’ day-to-day circumstances and enhancing their earnings potential. The research initiative is being conducted under the auspices of the UWC’s SARChl Chair in Waste and Society. An important consideration is the valuable contribution being made by the waste picking community to the recycling value chain by selling waste to buy-back centres or other middlemen. Clearly, waste pickers’ work needs to be formalised so that they can enjoy more sustainable business opportunities and greater financial security. With the proper policy environment (which is supportive without being too interfering), these informal workers could also move into more value-added activities in the waste economy with positive spill-over effects for their families and broader communities. 

Prof Blaauw and Prof Catherina Schenck are also working together in the ESRC/GCRF Strategic Network on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work hosted by the University of Durham. This short video explains their focus on 'Casual Work' in this initiative. 


Archive newsletters

Issue #5/2018

Issue #4/2017

Issue #3/2017

Issue #2/2016

Issue #1/2015