The Above Ground Mining Project


Sinqobile Ndlovu


julio 4, 2017


Informal sector recycling players living on less than US$1.25c per day

Personas impactadas



a) To reduce the number of informal recycling players in Bulawayo living on less than US$1.25c per day b) To broadcast atleast 5 documentaries that de-mystify negative stereotypes around informal recycling by raising awareness of its economic contribution and the informal players’ lives. c) To build multi-sectorial business linkages towards piloting a unique value exchange platform which will establish “waste as a tradeable currency” in a cashless economy. d) To facilitate developmental cooperation between informal recycling players and the Bulawayo City Council by employing 20 informal players to provide environmental cleaning services.

Visión general

As JCI Bulawayo we have initiated a green economy intervention titled “The Above Ground Mining Project” which aims to develop and reduce the number of informal sector recycling players living on less than US$1.25c per day. The project aims to do this by addressing poverty related socio-economic challenges faced by these informal players, and also providing access to decent and gainful income generation opportunities which adhere to environment and safety standards. In-place of degrading titles used by society - Izibhonda, Madobha mabhimu, Scavengers - we refer to these informal players as ‘above ground miners’. The project is aligned to SDGs 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17. The project is informed by postgraduate research conducted by the founder and chairlady which involved interviews with 120 informal players, major recycling companies, government and waste generators (companies and the community). This research unearthed the root challenges and opportunities inherent in solid waste management and recycling – challenges which the project seeks to address and opportunities are keen to maximize on together with our different partners.


1. FIRST EVENT - TOWARDS ACCESS TO HEALTH RELATED SERVICES FOR INFORMAL SECTOR RECYCLING PLAYERS: Ngozi Mine Health Expo (13 to 14 May 2017) Under The Above Ground Mining Project we held a successful Health EXPO at Ngozi Mine – Bulawayo city dumpsite on 13th and 14th May 2017. Medical doctors and dentists provided free dental and medical related services to 105 men and women as well as an additional 79 children. 22% of the attendees had never been to see a doctor before. 37 year old woman: “I have never been to a clinic. Whenever I get injured while doing my work, I normally treat myself. I have four children whom I gave birth to at home. I cannot afford to see a doctor or go to a clinic.” A number of women and girls stated that they used old clothing and socks harvested from the dumpsite for sanitary wear as they cannot afford to buy disposable sanitary towels every month. 300 reusable sanitary pads were distributed to these. 48% of the attendees had no birth certificates and/or national IDs. We provided guidance to obtain these. Young mother (25): “My twins have no birth certificates. I'm pained at the thought of my children growing up without being able to go to school and write exams like other children. I have a US$200 delivery debt at a local hospital. The hospital withheld my children’s birth record because of this. I feel hopeless because I can’t see how a person like me can raise this amount without stealing.” 2. TOWARDS A PLATFORM FOR MARKET ACCESS AND MAINSTREAM ECONOMY ENGAGEMENT FOR INFORMAL SECTOR RECYCLING ARTISTS: Above Ground Mining Exhibition and Market Fair (24 June 2017) Informal sector recycling players and artists making products from ‘found objects’ normally walk long distances in search for buyers of their products. Furthermore due to negative stereotypes surrounding their work, their artifacts have a lower market value than their counterparts within semi-formal work and trading spaces. Male exhibitor: “I normally wait for buyers or walk long distances in search for markets. My products are bulky, I can only carry two or three at a time. After walking the whole day I end up selling to whoever offers me whatever amount that will enable me to go back home with food for my children”. On Saturday 24th of June 2017 The Above Ground Mining team held an Exhibition and Market Fair at Zonkizizwe Shopping Centre, Bradfield, Bulawayo. This was an open air exhibition targeting Bulawayo residents with the aim to provide a platform for interaction with 15 rising informal recycling artists making artifacts and decorative pieces from ‘found objects’ or what people would have previously viewed as ‘waste’. The event attracted 78 Bulawayo residents. 60% of the exhibition visitors were adult males, 33% were adult females and the remaining 7% being children under the age of 13. Male visitor: “It’s surprising to see how much can be made from what we throw away every day.” The event also provided informal recycling players with an opportunity to exhibit and sell their products. A local private sector recycling company exhibited samples of locally made products from recycled material. Male exhibitor: “This is very good (this initiative). It’s encouraging for us as artists. Such initiatives expose us to markets, something that is very challenging for us. Thank you very much.” Adolescent female visitor: “I can’t believe that the plastic waste gathering outside my school can be exchanged for money that can in turn benefit my school”. Female exhibitor: “Thank you for inviting me to show my products here. I normally do not sell in places like this. I usually face challenges in finding a market. It’s also difficult for me to get the material to make my products look nice, however today I have met someone who offered to supply me with material for free!” Towards evidence based advocacy and awareness raising on above ground mining or informal sector recycling activity in Bulawayo, a captivating and educational documentary filmed by our project team was showcased and copies distributed to the visitors. Adolescent visitor: “Very interesting documentary! It has made me view the people of Ngozi mine in a different light and I will surely share the documentary with my friends and family.” Extract from our documentary: “When we tell people we are from Ngozi Mine, automatically what comes to mind is that we are crazy, homeless people. But that is not what we are. The minute someone sees us like that, they have killed us.” 3. TOWARDS AWARENESS RAISING ABOUT INFORMAL SECTOR RECYCLING ACTIVITY IN BULAWAYO (ZIMBABWE) TO TACKLE SOCIAL EXCLUSION: Documentary title: "UNTOLD STORIES: WASTE HARVESTERS OF BULAWAYO (ZIMBABWE)" This documentary is filmed by Zimbabwean youths who are members of the Junior Chamber International (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe). The documentary is part of awareness raising under The Above Ground Mining Project and aims to provide a space for ISR players to educate society about who they really are. Please WATCH, write your COMMENT below and SHARE with your friends and family! Link -

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