BBC Media Action launches initiative to shift perceptions about waste pickers

A part of H&M Foundation, the ‘Invaluables’ initiative intends to improve the lives of informal waste pickers in Bengaluru

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 4, 2021 5:39 PM
BBC Media Action's Initiative

BBC Media Action has launched ‘Invaluables’ - a communication initiative designed to shift perceptions about waste picking and informal waste pickers in the city of Bengaluru. The programme aims to lift the shroud of invisibility that cloaks informal waste pickers, by making their contribution to the city of Bengaluru more visible to the general public. The programme is part of the H&M Foundation-funded Saamuhika Shakti Collective Impact initiative, intended to improve the lives of informal waste pickers in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru, the capital of southern Indian state Karnataka, is home to over 22,500 waste pickers. According to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, Bengaluru generates nearly 5,757 metric tonnes of solid waste per day. Waste pickers in Bengaluru save municipal authorities up to Rs 840 million by collecting and transporting recyclables from waste, according to Hasiru Dala, an organisation working on waste management in the city. Despite being a critical part of the city’s solid waste management ecosystem, the waste pickers and their families suffer great hardships and challenges.

Through the ‘Invaluables’ initiative, BBC Media Action plans to help people travel a journey - from waste pickers being seen as ‘dirty’, to being recognised as doing important, skilled work that contributes to society and the environment.

Social experiment film – Invaluables

Central to this initiative is a social experiment that connects people to an ‘Invaluables’ Facebook community. Actress Radhika Narayan moderated the social experiment with a diverse set of Bengaluru residents, probing their notion of friends and the value of friendships. The experiment reveals the ‘Invaluable’ friends of the people of Bengaluru: friends who always stood by them, but that they never knew they had.

Actress Radhika Narayan moderated the social experiment with a diverse set of Bengaluru residents, probing their notion of friends and the value of friendships. The experiment reveals the ‘Invaluable’ friends of the people of Bengaluru: friends who always stood by them, but that they never knew they had. Waste pickers for a long time have remained invisible leading to silence on their contribution to our society. There are no conversations or questions on social media or offline. The social experiment tries to spark a realisation and to ignite a conversation around waste pickers - that they do what friends do for us, without us being aware at all.

The #Invaluables initiative focuses on the ‘humans behind the waste’, so far unrecognised by the people of Bengaluru, and over the course of the project, turn them into #Invaluables. The social experiment aimed to establish the interconnectedness between the general population and the waste pickers, and the value that the two sides bring for each other - as professionals, as humans and as fellow residents of the same city.

Our intense, two-month initiative is supported by eminent residents of Bengaluru: in addition to Radhika Narayan, author Anuja Chauhan, cricketer Robin Uthappa, comic and actor Shradha Jain, and actor Swetha Changappa.

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