The dietary intake, food (in)security and nutritional status of waste pickers in South Africa
Williams, Joy Desire'
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Background: Waste picking is not a new phenomenon in South Africa and is becoming increasingly prevalent, with rising numbers of waste pickers operating on landfills and on the streets. Although waste pickers are recognised as making an important contribution to waste management systems in South Africa, they remain at the lowest level of the waste collection and disposal hierarchy. Operating on the fringes of the formal economy with low and generally erratic income, they have limited access to safe and nutritious food. Many waste pickers are therefore prone to micronutrient malnutrition and macronutrient malnutrition. Food insecurity is a constant threat. Few studies have been conducted on this vulnerable group of people, with relatively little known about their eating habits and the impact thereof on their health. The aim of this study was to assess the dietary intake, food (in)security and nutritional status of waste pickers in South Africa, with a specific focus on landfill waste pickers. Study population and design: This constitutes a secondary study which builds on an earlier (primary) study conducted among 409 landfill waste pickers on nine landfill sites in four provinces in South Africa. Data was obtained from a cross-sectional quantitative survey conducted during the primary study which assessed the food (in)security, anthropometric status and dietary intake of waste pickers. In this study, group discussions were also conducted with waste pickers to gain more insight into activities and conditions on the landfill sites.