Annual Update 2022 VNG International


Ángela Fernández. Waste picker from ‘Entorno Limpio’ received a tricycle for waste collection and transport.



Mural in homage to the city’s waste pickers.


‘This is the first time in my 30 years as waste picker that most of the planned activities have been truly implemented, involving not only access to the waste tariff but also support and recognition from the government’.

Mr. Jhon Jairo Molina García,

a waste picker from the organization ‘Entorno Limpio’



‘We are telling the region and the world that Pereira is progressing in its sustainability performance’.

Mr. Carlos Maya,

Mayor of Pereira, during the inauguration of the mural painting



Developing Sustainable and

Resilient Cities and Communities

by strengthening democratic local government


Featured Project

DEALS, Colombia


Since 2018, Pereira has experienced a positive trend in improving the working conditions of the waste pickers while increasing the recycling rate of the city. Various interrelated activities of VNG International’s Governance of Inclusive Green Growth in Cities (DEALS) programme have contributed to these results.

To improve the technical and administrative capacity of the organizations of waste pickers, the local government has partnered for three consecutive years with CEMPRE Colombia, a national non-profit organization that promotes the circular economy. Through this deal, the organizations have received direct support in the form of equipment and software for their personnel and warehouses as well as professional assistance at the management level.



Results include:


  • In 2019, the city deployed a communication campaign named ‘Ciudadano Inteligente, Separa en la Fuente’ (Smart citizen, Sort at the Source). This strategy promotes the adequate sorting and storage of the recyclable waste by the community and encourages citizens to handing it in to the waste pickers. Today, all citizens can search for the waste pickers’ organization that collects the recyclable material in their homes and working places in a digital map-based tool available as webpage and mobile app
  • Furthermore, a recycling contest among neighborhoods, denominated ‘Ecobarrios’ (Econeighborhoods), was implemented by the local government since 2020. The contest seeks to increase the recycling rates while bringing the citizens closer to the waste pickers. In 2021, during the second version of the contest, 117 neighborhoods participated, and more than 170 tons of material were recycled (the contest data and infographics are available here:
  • Overall, the organizations of waste pickers grew from having 164 members in 2018 to 397 in 2021. This shows that an increasing number of waste pickers are accessing more formal working conditions. Additionally, the recycling rate of the city has almost tripled in the past two years; from less than 1% to almost 2%.
    The goal of the local government is that the city recycles 4% of its waste by 2023.
  • Today, with the support from the mayor’s office, the city is continuously searching for ways to keep improving both the recycling practices and the inclusion, recognition, and formalization of the waste pickers. In that sense, in 2021, a 150 square-meter mural was painted in homage to this population.