Recycling Profits the Poor in Philippines | Asian Development Bank

Recycling Profits the Poor in Philippines

Video | 2 September 2014

A waste management cooperative supported by the Poverty and Environment Fund in Manila’s impoverished Smokey Mountain has brought residents together in a quest for more profitable and healthier livelihoods.

Transcript

Title: Recycling Profits the Poor in Philippines

Description: A waste management cooperative supported by the Poverty and Environment Fund in Manila’s impoverished Smokey Mountain has brought residents together in a quest for more profitable and healthier livelihoods.

VO: Alongside the dock yards of the port of Manila, a spawning city of slums feeds on the proceeds of trash. For decades a massive dump site stood here an ever expanding mound of smouldering rubbish. Smokey Mountain as it’s named represented the worst of Manila’s garbage problem. The dump became home to some 30,000 people mostly impoverished villages from the countryside.

Leticia Reyes came to Smokey Mountain when she was 14. Instead of going to school, she spent her days scouring for food.

SOT: Leticia Reyes
Smokey Mountain Resident
When I got to Smokey Mountain there were a lot of worms. And once you entered, it was all muddy up to your knees. There were so much trash and so many flies.

VO: Today, what remains of Smokey Mountain is a shrub coated tiered cake of compost. Most of the dump site was cleared to make way for permanent housing. The scenes of urban squarrel and misery has become a thing of the past. Despite the improved conditions, thousands of families still struggle to make a living here. To provide livelihood opportunities and also improved environmental conditions in Smokey Mountain, the Asian Development Bank through its Poverty and Environment Fund or PEF supported a local cooperative that brought residents together to generate more profitable and healthier livelihoods.

This aid came in the form of a grant to an NGO - Sustainable Project Management, which steered the then failing cooperative in a new direction focused more on profits and enterprise. Recycling was an obvious choice for the cooperative’s first endeavor, as it’s a business the residents knew best. With assistance from the PEF project in 2005-2007, the cooperative built a materials recovery facility which now provides full time work for 20 employees.

SOT: Absalon “Toto” Rivas
Trash Sorter
I’m the team leader of the sorters. All the sorted trash is weighed and eventually we share the amount. When there’s a lot of trash coming in we can earn up to $105 every two weeks.

VO: The cooperative has gone on to become a successful manager of many micro enterprises in the community including a laundromat, masonry services, and handicrafts. Full members receive dividends and are eligible to apply for small loans.

SOT: Danny Mendoza
Cooperative Board Chairman
A lot of members now do not have a hard time in life because of the help they get from the cooperative. You not only get what you need but you also contribute back to the cooperative so it will prosper.

VO: Perhaps the single most valuable reward the coop has brought is a restored sense of purpose. After years of struggling, Letty earned an education and now works as the coop’s accountant. For her and her family, Smokey Mountain is still a place of promise.

SOT: Leticia Reyes
Smokey Mountain Resident
For me, I don’t really want for us to just leave this place. All I want is for them to have a decent livelihood. I am proud that I live here in Smokey Mountain.