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Enhancing livelihoods and the urban environment: Framework for integrated organic waste management

Posted on: December 16th, 2011 by and

The local political framework for integrated organic waste management in Diadema, Brazil.

Participatory integrated organic waste management (IOWM) re-circulates the value in household organic waste by combining the collection of organic waste by a group of autonomous recyclers, with composting and urban agriculture. Participatory IOWM promotes the practical use of a specific type of waste (organic), includes the integration of informative, economic and regulatory mechanisms, and can help enhance local food security and build a form of community or solidarity economy.

Currently in the Sao Paulo region there is no formal selective collection of organic waste. However, in conjunction with the city’s informal recycling program Vida Limpa (Clean Life), the recycling organisation Pacto ambiental (Environmental Pact), gardeners at the community garden in Diadema, local community residents, and local government, this research explored the potential for a IOWM program to be implemented in Diadema given the local and political context.

Brazil’s political climate has been led by the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT – Workers Party) for a large part of the last three decades. This party has been defined by their left-leaning, participatory, bottom-up policies, which have promoted the proliferation of participatory approaches in Brazil, allowing marginalized populations to have their hand in shaping policy developments.

In the Sao Paulo region of Brazil, two thirds of civil organisations working with popular sectors are involved in new participatory institutional arrangements, and the municipality of Diadema has gained recognition for its encouragement of popular participation.  Diadema was the first municipality to support informal recyclers with an official policy of remuneration for their informal recycling program (see Blog on Case Study of Diadema for more information).

Despite these progressive policies, fragmentation between institutions, participatory spaces, and policies has often resulted in a barrier to the implementation of waste management schemes. Therefore, it is crucial that deliberative policy-making be employed to address the issue of the un-even decision making process. What this means is that a bottom-up process of producing more equitable urban environments must be facilitated as it fosters effective participation and positive interplay between government commitment, civic virtues, and supportive institutional design.

In order to establish a facilitative framework for IOWM, it is required to address the issue of how to organise community-driven processes that seek to appropriate a political space that is currently dominated by formal political institutions. The focus must be put on deliberative decision-making in Diadema, using deliberative space as a means of facilitating this decision making. Deliberative space consists of informal discussions, meetings, and ideologies that define interactions between political and civil society, between recyclers’ organisations, community gardeners and local government.

*This blog is based on:

Yates, J. & Gutberlet, J. (2010). Enhancing Livelihoods and the Urban Environment: The Local Political Framework for Integrated Organic Waste Management in Diadema, Brazil. Journal of Development Studies 47(4), 1-18.

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