Waste collectors trained on best waste management practices to mitigate COVID-19 infection

September 17, 2020

Waste pickers collecting waste at the Kpone landfill site. Photo: WIEGO Global

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Environmental Service Providers Association (ESPA Ghana), and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO Global) trained about 100 leaders of waste pickers and collectors groups in Accra and Tema on best waste management practices and procedures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection.

The training, which was a Training of Trainers (ToT) is part of the Ghana 'Waste' Recovery Platform’s ongoing campaign to project the important role of waste collectors in the COVID-19 response, mobilize resources to provide personal protective equipment (PPEs) for waste collectors, sensitize the public on the safe use and disposal of face masks, tissues, face shields, gloves and promote effective waste management behavioral change.

“COVID-19 has taught us that infectious waste is around us, and we need to equip our waste collectors with more knowledge on infection prevention protocols so that they can be  vigilant and protect themselves”, noted Michael Affordefe, a Senior Medical Waste Tutor of the Accra School of Hygiene, who was a facilitator at the training.

The training took the participants through topics such as health and safety, infection prevention and best practices for solid waste management, as well as infectious waste management in terms of collection, transportation, and disposal. The participants were taken through hands-on practical on proper handwashing techniques, proper attires to wear for waste collection, types of wastes and the level of risk for waste collectors and pickers.

"This training has been very insightful for me. I did not know much about the appropriate PPE’s to wear. Through this training, I have come to understand the type of waste in the system and as a waste picker, I can now identify infectious waste and now know how to handle such waste to avoid getting infected”, noted Juliana Maworde, a waste picker at the Kpone landfill site.

According to statistics from WIEGO Global, Ghana has about 20,000-35,000 people who have committed themselves to protect the environment and human health through the collection of waste especially in major cities. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Ghana, waste collectors have been  collecting and disposing of potentially infectious waste (used face masks, gloves and face shields) with little or no personal protective equipment (PPEs), exposing them to the virus and putting their lives at risk.

It is expected that the leaders of the waste collectors and pickers groups who participated in the training will extend the knowledge gained to their members.

The trainings were voluntarily facilitated by Tutors and Officials from Accra school of Hygiene and Ghana Health Service, as their contribution to the Ghana ‘Waste’ Recovery Platform’s COVID-19 response activities. 

A facilitator teaching Waste Pickers and Collectors on best PPEs to wear on the field. Photos: Priscilla Mawuena Adjeidu

Training participants

Juliana Maworde, a Waste Picker at the Kpone landfill site being taken through proper hand washing techniques.

Cross section of participants .

Michael Affordefe, a Senior Medical Waste Tutor of the Accra School of Hygiene facilitating the training.