Africa Investments 

African Development Bank, CIF launch a study on the role of women in Uganda’s plastic recycling economy

The African Development Bank and Climate Investment Funds have launched the Gender Technical Assessment of Opportunities to improve Implementation of Plastics and Waste Management in a Ugandan Municipality study, which examines gender challenges in waste management and plastic recycling.

In Uganda, plastic waste poses a significant environmental challenge in the form of clogged drains and 80% of the waste pickers are women. In response, the report establishes a rationale to fund Women-led plastic and waste recycling economic projects to:

  • provide an incentive for householders to exploit recyclable waste as a source of revenue
  • provide formal employment opportunities for women currently involved in waste picking
  • promote a cleaner, plastic-free environment

The study was launched during a webinar on the women-led plastic recycling market in Africa hosted by the African Development Bank on 29 June 2021. During the event, experts underscored the role of women in waste management and as important agents of change. The session also highlighted best practices for the involvement of women in plastic waste management in Africa.

The study was conducted by Allcot, a project developer with expertise in addressing climate challenges. During its fieldwork in Kampala, the research team met with stakeholders, including women waste pickers and recyclers. The study’s findings suggest these women experience poor life quality.

The economic model for a waste recycling industry relies on a demand for the recycled material and a market price sufficient to make it attractive to householders to cover the costs of collection, according to the report’s findings.

At the webinar, Al Hamdou Dorsouma, Acting Director of Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, said the webinar was timely as plastic waste has become an issue of much scrutiny and concern over the last few years.

He also noted many Bank initiatives at the country level, such as the Nigeria Circular Economy Working Group, which convenes strategic stakeholder groups to share ideas and coordinate activities and projects, including in the plastics value chain.

Another solution is a transition to a circular economy for plastics, involving value chains that are inclusive and gender equal. “Women’s inclusion in the waste sector needs to be policy-informed to enable a plastic waste management sector that reflects gender parity,” Mr. Dorsouma said.

Presentations during the webinar highlighted the sector’s challenges and opportunities. In Cote d’Ivoire, for instance, UNICEF and Colombian social enterprise Conceptos Plasticos,  have launched a project to build classrooms from recycled plastic.  According to Marc Vincent, UNICEF’s Country Representative, this game-changing approach, which empowers women while cleaning up the environment, has built 96 classrooms and cleared 500 tonnes of plastic waste.   

Webinar participants noted the urgent need to collaboratively identify and address the institutional, economic, socio-cultural and political triggers of women’s vulnerability in waste management and plastic recycling.

Bank staff proposed the Adaptation Benefit Mechanism, which mobilizes new public and private sector finance for enhanced climate change adaptation action for innovative small-scale businesses that generate high dividends in inclusive growth.

Click here to read the report

Click here to visit the ACEA website

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African Development Bank Group

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