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Volunteers join waste collectors to combat harassment

By Maram Kayed - Apr 17,2019 - Last updated at Apr 17,2019

AMMAN — A cleaning initiative in Irbid was held on Wednesday to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with beneficiaries of Action Against Hunger’s cash assistance programme.

“The notion of direct cash assistance is slowly disappearing. Nowadays, most NGOs provide assistance in exchange for a simple service, in this case waste collection,” said Sajeda Saqallah, the food security and livelihood programme manager in Irbid.

Saqalla told The Jordan Times that since the programme, called “Cash for Work”, targets vulnerable Jordanians and Syrians, most of the beneficiaries are women, schoolchildren and young men.

She added: “They [beneficiaries] are reporting incidents of ridicule and harassment while on the job. This is why we decided to invite prominent figures and local organisations in Irbid to stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers.”

The campaign also aims to encourage individuals and communities to create “acceptable and sustainable options to promote waste collection and waste sorting”, according to a statement sent to The Jordan Times.

Although the Cash for Work programme lasts for 40 days, Saqalla said that beneficiaries acquire a skill that will come in handy after the programme concludes, which is that of waste sorting.

“During the programme, the workers learn about the different types of plastic, bronze and iron. Later on, after differentiating between what is recyclable and what can be too expensive [to recycle], they go on to sell the material that still has value, which can generate income,” she added.

The programme, which started in October 2018, has two categories for workers, according to Irbid Field Coordinator Sarah Varrier.

“The ‘skilled’ worker is somewhat of a team leader, they need to support others and be cooperative with everyone. They also have to do some awareness raising. As for ‘unskilled’ workers, the job itself is enough,” she told The Jordan Times over the phone.

A “skilled” worker is paid JD15 per day, with one day of paid leave, while “unskilled” workers are paid JD12. Workers in both categories are enrolled in the social security programme.

“We have 176 beneficiaries so far and, on average, by the end of the programme a ‘skilled’ worker would have made JD550 while the ‘unskilled worker would have made JD430,” Varrier said.

The campaign falls under the German Agency for International Cooperation’s “Waste to Energy in Jordan”, and focuses on “strengthening solid waste management” in Irbid Governorate, according to the statement.

The campaign is part of a series of six volunteer campaigns taking place in Bani Obaid and Koura throughout March, April and June.

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