Co-production of Services in Informal Settlements

In many informal settlements, a large number of informal sector waste pickers collect and separate household waste, providing an important service. However, waste pickers represent one of the most excluded, impoverished and disempowered segments of society.

This study explores the challenges and potential solutions for the co-production of participatory waste management services in informal settlements, using the case of informal settlements in Kisumu, Kenya. Researchers conducted interviews, focus group discussions, participatory workshops and action on ground as part of extensive fieldwork between 2014 and 2015.

This report illustrates the challenges and opportunities to improve waste management in informal settlements through community participation and the inclusion of waste pickers. The results of the project are presented in three sections based on different academic articles where the result of the project first was published.

The first article “Bridging Weak Links of Solid Waste Management in Informal Settlements” presents a number of opportunities that can be used to improve waste management systems in informal settlements.

The second article “Socio-environmental entrepreneurship and the provision of critical services in informal settlements” examines the role of waste entrepreneurs in informal settlements as environmental stewards. Although seeing the contribution of waste entrepreneurs as very positive, however this article still questions the privatization of important services, such as waste collection. There is a risk of developing clientelistic relationships, of eroding collective solutions for the servicing of neighbourhoods and cities, and of abandoning the least affluent but majority of residents and settlements.

The final article is titled “Translating policies into informal settlements’ critical services: reframing, anchoring and muddling through”. It discusses the Kisumu Integrated Sustainable Waste Management Plan (KISWAMP) that succeeded to dignify, or reframe, waste picking as a critical community service and as a decent profession. Waste management also gained internal status as a legitimate area of policy making within the municipality and was turned it into an important service worth paying for. Yet it did not sufficiently anchor some of the new practices in the informal settlements, such as the partnership arrangements with waste entrepreneurs or the maintenance of waste transfer points.

The report outlines challenges and opportunities at the same time, and ends with some policy recommendation for integrating waste pickers in the provision of services at the municipal level.

Read the full report here.