The Payatas Dumpsite

This page seems to be very popular. May I recommend that you also visit the Project Presentation page which is the foundation stone for this information about Payatas - and also what can be done to improve the situation! You can still reach this site about Payatas Dumpsite from there.

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If you have an interest in starting a similar project and if you are considering the possibility to get support from Sida, please read here.

The Payatas Dumpsite in Quezon City is the main terminal for the solid waste collected in the city. The Payatas' forerunner, Smokey Mountains, was notorious. Payatas' reputation became just as bad in connection with the huge landslide in year 2000 when a large number of scavengers were literally buried under the waste.

The current project is not directly dealing with the activities in Payatas, but a reduction of the residual waste generated by the households will have a significant impact on the amount of waste finally deposited at the dumpsite. A potential continuation of the project will need a close cooperation with the Payatas as a key player in order to cover all aspects of Solid Waste Management.

The pictures below are shot on a normal "working day" in October 2003 at Payatas. A warning is hereby given to sensitive people:
Even though the conditions at Payatas have greatly improved over the last few years, the conditions for the 10,000s of people finding their livelihood from the waste are far from encouraging.

The realistic facts are that any activities undertaken to reduce the amount of - recyclable - waste brought to Payatas will immediately affect revenue levels of the people surviving from it...

All pictures below can be enlarged by clicking on them. The average file size of each pictures is around 200 kb.
If you would like to use the pictures for some reason please do not hesitate to contact Conexor. The pictures are also available with much higher resolution.

A view from the Old Payatas Dumpsite towards the New Dumpsite. The picture is shot standing on the site of the landslide in year 2000.

A monument is erected as a sad reminder of the tragedy.

The dumpsite today is carefully developed and filled in layers to avoid too steep slopes.

A single scavenger out of the around 10,000 families that live directly from the recyclables that can be found.
And 10,000 families mean at least 5--6 times as many people...

Once the dump truck arrives at Payatas, the documents are checked to evaluate what truck has arrived when from where.

The dump truck moves towards the dumping area. The area is seething with activities; all related to recycling and the selling of the recyclable products. Around 1,000 trucks per day arrive at Payatas - each carrying 2--3 tons of waste.

The dumping is strictly organized. A certain group of scavengers is assigned to a certain truck and waits until it dumps.

The truck dumps it load...

... and the scavenging is carefully supervised by security guards.

Normally the whole family is involved in the scavenging and the different members of the family take turns in the work. The schooling for the children is organized by the Barangay and uses a four-shift scheme to provide for all the children in the area.

The scavengers are organized in an association which in turn negotiates with the junk shop owners for the best price. "Market rules" govern so an association or group of scavengers can switch to another junk shop if the prices are better.

The dumpsite is open 24 hours a day but most activities go on during the bright hours. And while the trucks on the pictures above are dumping their loads in the designated area...

... other teams are approaching the newly arrived valuables in other areas.

Only a few minutes are allowed to scavenge the load from the last truck before a bulldozer is covering the load to make space for a new truck to dump.

The weighing scale is the key to all business. Recyclables are sold by weight...

... but larger items are handled individually.

More or less permanent covers are erected to provide some protection from the weather; the sun and the rain can both be unsparing.

The sight of children is very common and the children make up a substantial part of the workforce.

The recycling is carried out on site and organized to provide an effective flow of the goods.

If the price is not good enough the area is used as a storage place awaiting higher prices.

A cigarette provides some satisfaction during a break.

The Payatas is strictly, but kindly, managed by Colonel (ret.) Robert Jaymalin (fourth from left) who has transferred the dumpsite into a well-managed "recycling industry".

Colonel Jaymalin explains to the junk shop owners how to make improvements in their business and at the same time consider the interests of the scavengers.

The results from the scavenging and recycling are loaded for transportation to an industry.

Every kind of recyclable is treated in a specific way to allow for maximum price.

Cardboard is baled using homemade tools.

And under the umbrellas the work goes on and on and on...

... maybe hoping for a somewhat better price next time.

 The Payatas is divided into areas; all with their area manager.

The security has a high priority and no serious accidents have occurred during the last years.

Most scavengers prepare their food in their shelter homes, but eateries provide for celebrations.

The Barangay Captain (Ms Rosario Dadulo, third from left) is very active together with the dumpsite management in improving the living conditions in various ways for the scavengers and other people at Payatas.

And naturally the question remains: How can the scavengers survive? And at what "standard of living"?
An active scavenger can sell recyclables for around 150--300 pesos a day. For a family of five that means around 1,000 pesos a day. As an example, that should be compared to a sales lady at a department store whose standard income is around 250 pesos a day. And then she has to cover the costs for her travels, clothes, etc.
(A comparison to foreign currency is of course more or less meaningless since it is a question of purchasing power, but a USD today (October 2003) is around 55 pesos; around 20 USD a day for a family in other words...)

The Guestbook is meant to be a place for spontaneous reactions, more comprehensive comments, and questions. It will be more interesting for others if you write something in the Guestbook - so please do!

If you have a link to another website that you think would be beneficial for people visiting this website - please send it to me and I might include it on this page. Then we can set up links to each other for the benefit of everybody.

Start similar projects with support from Sida

The interest in this project is very high and the number of visitors to this web page is increasing. If you use Google and search for a specific word like "payatas" or the more generic word "dumpsite", this web page gets top ranking among several hundred thousand hits. This is naturally very encouraging and shows that hard and dedicated work pays off.

Conexor gets a lot of inquires (please see the Guestbook for some comments) how a similar project could be started, and if there is a possibility to get support from Sida.

In August 2007 the Swedish Government presented its Strategy for Bilateral Development Cooperation.

In connection with the Government's review of development cooperation it was decided to end Sweden's bilateral development assistance to the Philippines. Sida has been instructed to draft a phase-out plan.

19 December 2007
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Sweden phases out three embassies

Today the Government decided to phase out three of Sweden's embassies. The three are the embassies in Angola, Philippines and Laos.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs continuously reviews its organisation abroad and assesses its status in relation to external changes and changing requirements for monitoring and service. This means that over time Sweden opens new or closes existing embassies and consulates. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs must also adapt its organisation abroad to its budget and live up to the efficiency objectives that apply to all ministries and government agencies.

Sweden's embassy to the Philippines mainly works on promoting Swedish exports and helping Swedish companies to compete for contracts in the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Swedish exports to the Philippines account for about 0.07 per cent of all Swedish exports and Sweden has a small share of ADB contracts. In connection with the Government's review of development cooperation in 2007 it was decided to end Sweden's bilateral development assistance to the Philippines. Sida has been instructed to draft a phase-out plan. An honorary consulate will be opened to give service to Swedish citizens. The embassy is expected to close by 30 June 2008 at the latest.

For a more comprehensive description of the new strategy, please refer to:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Focused bilateral development cooperation
The new development policy

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