Read in 3 mins

Putting spotlight on the friends you have but never knew

Waste pickers serve an important societal function by picking up, cleaning, sorting and segregating recyclable waste and selling it further up the value chain. But they lack social acceptance and dignity. Creating societal recognition of their work as having economic and environmental value is important. As part of our initiative Saamuhika Shakti, BBC Media Action have launched “Invaluables” – a communication initiative designed to shift perceptions about waste picking and informal waste pickers in Bengaluru, India.

Within Saamuhika Shakti, a multi-partner initiative designed to improve the life of waste pickers, BBC Media Action uses communication as a powerful tool for positive change and to challenge prejudices with the aim of improving professional pride within this sector. Their formative research has showed that residents in Bengaluru do not recognise the humans behind the process of informal waste management, despite caring deeply about waste on the streets. While people are generally appreciative of formal waste collectors, the research showed a high level of stigma against informal waste pickers, who are virtually invisible to the people of Bengaluru.

“For informal waste pickers to experience greater social acceptance, we believe that there is a need to change the way the people of Bengaluru think and feel about waste pickers. Through the “Invaluables” initiative, we hope 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”, says Priyanka Dutt, Country Director, BBC Media Action, India.

“We conducted the social experiment to highlight that waste pickers do as much for us as those we think of as our friends. We hope this experiment will help shift how waste pickers are seen; from being invisible, to being invaluable.”

Radharani Mitra, Global Creative Advisor, BBC Media Action

Central to the initiative is a social experiment that connects people to an “Invaluables” Facebook community. Actress Radhika Narayan moderated a 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 in Bengaluru; friends who always stood by them, but that they never knew they had.

“Waste pickers and the role they play in our lives are invisible – on social media and elsewhere. We conducted the social experiment to play up this difference and to highlight that waste pickers do as much for us as those we think of as our friends. We hope this experiment and the Invaluables group will help shift how waste pickers are seen; from being invisible, to being invaluable”, says, Radharani Mitra, Global Creative Advisor, BBC Media Action.

“For a sound and robust waste management system to exist, there needs to be recognition of those that carry that system on their shoulders.”

Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead, H&M Foundation

“An important pillar of our work is the belief that communication in itself can be a change maker and spark action. It can contribute to changes in beliefs, attitudes and behaviours, and even policies and regulations. We are proud to partner with BBC Media Action and support the “Invaluables” initiative which we believe is an important piece of the puzzle to improve the lives of waste pickers. For a sound and robust waste management system to exist, there needs to be recognition of those that carry that system on their shoulders”, says Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead, H&M Foundation.

About BBC Media Action

BBC Media Action is the BBC’s international charity that uses media and communication for good. We reach more than 100 million people each year in some of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries. Our projects and programmes save lives, protect livelihoods, counter misinformation, challenge prejudice and build democracy. Using a human centred design approach, our work is rooted in evidence, powered by insights, and leverages impact-tested, scalable, big ideas to create social and behaviour change. In India, over the past two decades, we have delivered impact in health (HIV prevention, tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health), sanitation, gender equity, climate change and the prevention of bonded labour.

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact

Nishant Kumar, Head of Project, PRIDE, BBC Media Action (India) Limited
E-mail: kumar.nishant@in.bbcmediaaction.org


Malin Björne, Communications Manager, H&M Foundation
Phone +46 70 796 39 75
E-mail: malin.bjorne@hmfoundation.com

Resources

Invaluables community on Facebook

Social experiment film (Youtube)