Community Sanitation and Recycling Organization (CSARO) is a Cambodian
Non-Governmental organization (NGO) established in February 1997 by a
group of development workers committed to improving the environment and
living conditions of urban poor in Cambodia. CSARO has been a leader in
the use of a participatory model to improve conditions in the neglected
and unserviced areas where most urban poor live. A special focus of
CSARO's work is improving the living and working conditions of the
thousands of adult and child waste pickers who eke out a living from
Phnom Penh's waste.
Following the finalization of the new three-year strategic plan
(2004-2007) in July 2004, the CSARO activities were reorganized into the
2005 was a year of encouraging stability and growth in many of CSARO's
programs. It is a key principle of the work to create lasting change in
the lives of the urban poor. As CSARO completes its eighth year it is
good to see the continuing positive impact of the work that has been
done in many of the communities supported.
This year has seen an expansion of the community development work to 3
new communities with a population of 2,322 people. Waste collection has
started in these areas, making a significant improvement to sanitation
for these households. The waste is also being sorted and where
possible, recycled, thereby reducing the amount sent to landfill and the
impact on the environment. This work illustrates well the vision of
CSARO seeking to transform both the environment and the economic
conditions of the urban poor in Phnom Penh.
2005 marked the halfway point of CSARO's current three year plan
(2004-2007) and existing projects continued to develop their work. The
Waste picker development center continues to reach new people with
sometimes over 100 adults and children visiting it daily and benefiting
from services, training and support. Meanwhile the mobile outreach
program continues to reach hundreds of children and adults at its 18
sites around the city. A mid term evaluation of CSARO's activity was
very beneficial in looking at the impact of these activities and how to
improve them further.
Key to the success of every aspect of CSARO's work is the quality of its
staff. We were glad to welcome 11 staff members new to CSARO during
2005. We continue to invest in staff capacity building and to
strengthen procedures, this year developing new personnel policies and a
We were glad to organize and support many events during the year, from
participating in International Children's Rights Day in Phnom Penh to
running a ten day exposure trip to learn from communities in India. We
were delighted to have the support of community leaders and the Ministry
of the Environment in many of these activities. We continue to work
with the government and local authorities, and were glad to sign an
agreement with the Ministry of Environment this year, expressing their
partnership in CSARO's work.
2005 saw a continuing impact on the lives of the urban poor in Phnom
Penh as CSARO sought to improve economic, social and environmental
conditions in many parts of the city. We look forward to continuing to
increase and improve this work in the coming year.
Heng Yon Kora, Program Director
Community Sanitation and Recycling Organization
Phnom Penh and CSARO's Program Area
Phnom Penh City
Phnom Penh City, the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia, is located at
the meeting of three rivers, the Mekong, the Tonle Sap and the Bassac.
The city has a population in excess of 1 million (including a large
number of seasonal migrants) and an area of 290 Km2. Administratively,
it is divided into 7 districts, 3 being predominately rural or
peri-urban and 4 constituting the built-up urban core. Population
densities are as high as 43,696 per km2. 17.6% of families live in
informal settlements, 35% of families lack piped water supply and only
51% of the population has finished primary school.
CSARO's Program Area
Since 1998, CSARO implemented its
Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP) in Chamcarmon District in the
south of the city. This district has a population of 200,000+ and is
divided into 12 Sangkats (Wards). CSARO has focused it's Community
Development and Environmental Hygiene Awareness program on 6 of these
Sangkats with 68,095 residents. The area includes 10
primary schools, 3 middle schools and 1 high school with a total student
population of 29,792. Within this area, the Solid Waste Management
program operates a pilot zone containing more than 2000 households.
In addition to the NIP, the Mobile Outreach Education
program of "curb side classrooms" has set-up 9 day-time and 4 night-time
contact points in 4 of the city's districts. CSARO's Waste Picker
Development Center services the needs of informal sector workers
from throughout the city.
MOE and CDP locations are identified on the map.
CSARO's Program Area
CSARO expanded Community
Development and Environmental Hygiene Awareness coverage to 6 additional
communes. The Solid Waste Management program
expanded to cover more than 6000 households and the Mobile Outreach Education program
increased coverage into two additional districts. Most of the waste collection activities
were stopped in September 2004 due to changes in
CSARO's Program Area (2005 - 2007)
In 2006, CSARO purchased land for the construction of a
new recycling and composting center in Khmunh Commune, Roussey Keo
District. CSARO will close the existing waste recycling center and the
new center will be active in the near future. Solid waste collection
services were started in one new area in Samaki Community, Trapeang
Krasang Commune, Dong Kao District, and planning is underway for waste
collection services in two new areas in Anlongkrangan Community, Khmunh
Commune, Roussey Keo District, and Toul Rokakos Community, Prey Sor
Commune, Dong Kao District. In 2005, the Community Development Program
established four new CDCs, and plans to expand activities to communities
in five new districts in Phnom Penh City. In 2005, the Mobile Outreach
Education program adjusted outreach locations to better suit the needs
of the target groups.
Approved Budget for 2004 - 2007
We received partial funding for our estimated budget. The final approved budget is displayed below.
|2007 (January to March)
Socio-economic Study of Waste Pickers in Phnom Penh
study was undertaken to gain a better understanding of the
socio-economic, working and living conditions of waste pickers
in Phnom Penh. The data was collected between July and September
1997 with some 740 curb side interviews carried-out. The objectives
of the study included:
generation of a comprehensive profile of those active
in waste picking.
assessment of the market potential for recyclable
identification of the ability to undertake income
generation activities based around recycled materials
in Phnom Penh.
The identification of potential areas to assist in
establishing pilot programmes for social and economic
development of waste pickers.
Penh is a city facing many problems, from rapid population
growth to inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure
and services. One of the main problems facing the city
and its authorities is the growing problem of solid
waste management. Ever greater volumes of waste are
being generated by the city's population and due to
existing inefficiencies in the waste management system
(under financing, weak management capacity) this waste
is often thrown on roadsides, vacant land and into drainage
canals within the city. This creates further public health
and environmental problems for the city and its residents.
In addition the existing land fill site at Stung
Mean Chey has reached the end of its operable life.
New locations are being examined for future development,
but may be some years in coming.
within the city one group of the city's urban poor makes
their daily income from the waste left around the city.
These waste pickers sort through the garbage and collect
recyclable materials, which they can then sell to depots
throughout the city. The waste pickers are
highly visible as they push their handcarts around the
city and are often heard calling "Hychai".
Until now, little was known about their activities,
or economic and living conditions. In an attempt
to gain more knowledge about their living conditions and livelihood
that a survey of waste pickers was undertaken, the analysis
of the resulting analysis are the basis for this
51% of waste pickers active in Phnom Penh are children
(less than 18 years of age), while 35% are aged under 15
years of age. Ages of those surveyed ranged from 8
years to 77 years.
The majority of waste pickers are male (62%). This
anomaly is primarily due the fact that
girls and women often take up domestic responsibilities
within households at a young age and a large number of waste
pickers are children. In addition to this
young girls and women are perceived to be more in
danger from assault and kidnapping.
Most waste pickers come from "large households
of greater than 5 members, the average waste picker
household has 5.42 persons.
34% of the waste picker households are female-headed
Of those people active in waste picking the vast majority
are ethnically Khmer 68%, while 26% are ethnically
Most waste pickers stated that they have attended
some form of educational institution (schools
or pagodas) to learn to read and write.
However the levels of literacy are just below the
estimated national averages (65%) but well below the
estimated urban averages (78%). Many of the children
claim to attend school but 68% are
working 7 hours or more per day, out of economic necessity
for their families.
88% of waste pickers are unpaid family members working
to contribute to household incomes.
73% of waste pickers, including children,
work more than 7 hours per day. Over
half walk more than 10 km per day while
Over 90% of waste pickers have little or no
clothing to protect against injury or infections.
40% of all waste pickers are regularly threatened
and harassed. This figure increases for children to
over 60%. A third of all female waste pickers are
The majority of those active in waste picking (63.9%)
are earning less than 3000 Riels ($0.75) per day.
While 95% of them are earning less than 5,000R ($1.25)
Most waste picker families (74%) have to survive
on less than $50 per month. When one considers that
the average household size is 5.42 persons, this gives
less than $10 monthly per capita to survive.
A recent World Bank Study has attempted to set
the poverty line for Phnom Penh at approximately $111
per month per family.
About one third of waste pickers borrow money
to purchase more valuable waste materials usually
from households. One interesting fact was that 50%
of female waste pickers borrowed money, while
only a third of male waste pickers did.
However, borrowing does not appear to significantly
increase their daily earning potential, most are still
earning only 3,000 - 5,000 Riels per day.
Over 80% of waste pickers have suffered some
form of illness or injury within the previous
Most waste pickers (61%) treated themselves
with medicines when ill. Only 1% attempted
to see a doctor.
& Basic Services
The majority of waste picker households (81%)
live in single room dwellings. Most of these
are made from either palm leaf (46%) or wood
(46%). Less than 2% of waste picker households
live in houses constructed of more durable materials
such as brick.
Nearly half (42%) are renting their accommodations
64% of waste picker household have to purchase
water from vendors. Only 2.6% have access
to piped water.
Additionally 61% of waste picker households
do not have any access to basic toilet facilities.
Most households (72%) use wood for fuel
and over half do not have access to electricity.
Analysis & Market Potential
The most frequently collected waste materials
are "aluminium cans", "plastic
water bottles", "glass bottles",
and "cardboard and paper". The average
purchasing price by waste pickers for these
items were; cans 25 Riel ($0.008); plastic bottle
327 Riels ($0.10); various glass bottles 100
Riels ($0.03) and cardboard & paper at 73
Riels ($0.02). The most valuable items to waste
pickers were car batteries, copper, and fans.
Most waste pickers purchased items
by quantity but sold them by weight to
While the average selling prices to depots were;
cans 31 Riels ($0.01); plastic bottles 489 Riels
($0.15). Glass bottles 110 Riels ($0.035) and
cardboard and paper at 110 Riels ($0.035).
The profit margins are very low, requiring large
volumes of materials to earn a days income.
Prices paid by various depots within the survey
area varied greatly for materials.
The majority of materials collected in Phnom
Penh are processed by depots to reduce
the weight and volume of materials and then
shipped abroad for recycling. Those materials
that do appear to be recycled in Phnom Penh
have specialist markets for instance beer and
sauce bottles. The majority of other materials
access to education, particularly for children, utilizing
both formal and informal approaches. For older children
and adults, vocational skills training needs to be made
more accessible. This will allow them to improve their earning
potential, so as to better look after themselves and their
families and by doing so reduce the burden on children,
preventing them from working long hours to contribute to household incomes.
Improve personal awareness of hygiene and health issues,
particularly the dangers of self-treatment. Allow for
the provision of appropriate protective clothing; increase
their understanding and use of available medical services
within the city. Provide centers to allow waste pickers
the opportunity to adequately clean themselves, reducing
the risk of self-contamination from disease regularly
associated with waste and a polluted environment.
Develop appropriate small scale infrastructure and servicing
projects, particularly for water supply and sanitation
within urban poor communities where waste pickers reside.
This will often depend on improving security of tenure
of waste picker households. Develop more suitable forms
of housing finance to provide the ability to
improve their housing conditions.
Efforts need to be made to increase both daily and monthly
incomes for waste picker households, since most waste
picker households fall well below the projected poverty
line (estimated at $111
per month). This could include improving the waste picker
knowledge of material prices paid by depots within the
city. Initiating processing and recycling activities
by waste pickers themselves, directly adding values
to materials collected, and investigating the potential
for the development of recycled products markets within
Waste Management Campaign SWMC
Develop public awareness of the hazards that illegal
dumping of waste poses both to themselves and other
citizens within the city. Integrate the waste pickers
into the formal SWM system, utilizing them to collect
waste from unserviced and inaccessible areas. Promote
more community-based responsibility for solid waste
management and the benefits from environmental improvement.
Encourage domestic sorting of waste into "wet"
(organic) and "dry" (non-organic) streams.
Then collect these wastes at the same time, and utilize
the wet matter for composting purposes, initially for
volume reduction of waste, but if the market potential
exists for use as an organic fertilizers. Dry matter can be
post sorted into recyclable materials and matter that
should be removed to the landfill. This should further
reduce the volumes of waste going to
landfill sites. Further investigation is required
into the development of uses for recycled materials
within Phnom Penh.
Develop a number of multi-use centers for waste pickers,
initially operating as contact points for waste pickers
and their families. Once confidence has been built, various activities will be undertaken
providing locations for both social development activities
and community based environmental improvements. The
social development activities could require informal
education and hygiene awareness building. While the
environmental improvements could require micro-scale
composting of "wet" waste, and post sorting and
preliminary processing of recyclable waste with the
profits going directly to waste pickers.
This will result in volume reduction of wastes destined for
landfills. The location could also be utilized for short-term
storage of materials, requiring the provision
of appropriate containers.
facilities could also be provided allowing waste pickers
the opportunity to properly clean, particularly prior
to eating. This would reduce the high incidence of self-contamination.
The centers could also provide locations for informal
child care: young children could be left in safety,
free the adults from having to carry infants and young
children while working, and also
removing these infants and children from exposure to
pathogens and disease.
incentives would probably have to be used, until waste
pickers felt confident about the role and purpose
of the centers. Some of the possible incentives
could require access to showers and cleaning
facilities, possible purchasing of materials collected
at market values but purchased with a non profit motive, and access to a doctor on a regular basis, allowing waste
pickers to get correct and proper diagnosis of frequent
various activities that could be integrated into the
centers would face some conflict between emphasis on
social and economic improvements, and environmental improvement
activities. This would allow for more efficient removal
of waste, reduced volumes of waste being
transported to the landfill, and greater sustainability
through recycling of materials. Environmental activities would probably
be easier and quicker to instigate, but social improvement
activities would probably have a greater impact over
time. The difficulty will be in finding the balance
between the two types of activities.