Beyond Poverty: an insight into the informal solid waste recycling sector in Kaduna, Nigeria
Researcher: Onyanta Adama-Ajonye, Urban Cluster
This research project examines the structure and functioning of the informal solid waste recycling sector in Kaduna, Nigeria. It investigates the role of place-specific conditions in shaping access and the network of relations and interdependence that emerge within and beyond the city. Kaduna is a declining industrial town with a population of about one and a half million people. The informal recycling sector is a popular livelihood survival strategy and a crucial ‘gap filler’ in the overall urban solid waste management system in the city. However, this research looks beyond poverty to highlight the complexity, dynamism and place-specific nature of the informal solid waste recycling sector. It analyzes issues related to the types of actors; access to urban space; sets of relations formed across different spatial scales; the nature and extent of organizing and the capacity to exert influence with particular attention to how these relate to existing political, economic and socio-cultural conditions. The project is set against the belief that while the informal sector has attracted considerable attention from researchers, the concept of informality remains under-utilized and the process itself little understood. Informality is often equated with poverty leading to the neglect of other critical dimensions such as differentiated access to informal activities and power relations in general. In addition, informal sector workers do not operate in a vacuum. It is therefore important to acknowledge and understand how specific conditions in African cities shape the activities, opportunities and problems faced by informal sector workers and their responses.