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Training Waste Pickers Population with German Development Cooperation Support

Simbiotic embarked on a significant project in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), under the Green Jobs program. This project, developed between August 10, 2021 and August 11, 2022, aimed to design and implement training processes for the recycling population in Colombia.

Lideres recicladores graduados gritando "¡Lo logramos!"

Recycling without waste pickers is garbage!

Project Components

  1. Diploma for Leaders of Waste Pickers' Organizations: This diploma was designed to strengthen the technical, managerial, and administrative competencies of leaders of waste pickers' organizations. In addition, it sought to develop social and leadership skills, promoting their organizations' efficient management and sustainable development.Actions:
    • Contextual Analysis: A diagnosis was made of the needs and capacities of waste pickers.
    • Content Design: In collaboration with experts and academic entities such as SENA, adapted pedagogical contents were developed.
    • Development of Materials: Structural documents, pedagogical resources, and guides for teachers were created.
    • Implementation: The diploma was held in Bogotá, using participatory methodologies adapted to the reality of waste pickers.
  1. Complementary Course for waste pickers: This course focused on improving the technical capabilities of basic waste pickers in the provision of public toilet service and materials exploitation activity. Actions:
    • Development of Content: Specific content was designed to strengthen the technical skills of waste pickers.
    • Creation of Resources: Educational materials and practical guides were developed.
    • Implementation: The course was implemented in Cúcuta, adapting to the needs and local contexts of waste pickers.
  1. Training, Knowledge Transfer and Immersion for Mentors and Teachers: This component was essential to ensure the sustainability and continuity of the project. Mentors and teachers from SENA and other educational institutions were trained, providing them with the necessary tools and knowledge to replicate and adapt the training programs. Actions:
    • Training of Trainers: Intensive training sessions were held for mentors and teachers.
    • Knowledge Transfer: Strategies were implemented to ensure effective transfer of knowledge and skills.
    • Monitoring and evaluation: Continuous evaluations were carried out to measure the impact and effectiveness of the training.

Impact and Results

In addition, the training of mentors and teachers ensured the continuity and expansion of the project, allowing more waste pickers to benefit from these trainings in the future.

The project had a significant impact on the waste pickers population, promoting their personal and professional development. Leaders strengthened their management capabilities, improving the efficiency and sustainability of their organizations. Basic waste pickers acquired technical skills that allowed them to improve the quality of their work and increase their income.


The contract with GIZ represented a unique opportunity to contribute to the sustainable development and social inclusion of one of the most vulnerable populations in Colombia. Through innovative and adapted pedagogical approaches, it was possible not only to improve the technical and managerial skills of waste pickers, but also to strengthen their self-esteem, social cohesion, and capacity for collective action. This project is an example of the transformative power of education and continuing training, and Simbiotic’s commitment to sustainability and social justice.