Perception of Scavengers and Occupational Health Hazards Associated with Scavenging from a Waste Dumpsite in Pretoria, South Africa

Senzeni Nyathi*, Joshua O. Olowoyo, Agboola Oludare

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. Scavenging is a source of income for most unskilled people in the developing countries. The present study investigated the perception of scavengers on scavenging and related health hazards from the Onderstepoort waste dumpsite in Pretoria, South Africa. Methods. Primary data were obtained through observation and implementation of a questionnaire to a total number of 53 scavengers (27 females and 26 males). The questionnaire was structured to extract information that included perceptions of scavengers about their activities, health implications of scavenging, monthly income, and behavioural norms. Results. Educated scavengers had high school education. The period of scavenging ranged from 10 to 15 years. The majority of scavengers did not use protective clothing. However, few used gloves and boots picked from the dumpsite. Common health issues reported included back pain, headache, diarrhoea, and shortness of breath. Some sustained injuries from sharp objects. Scavengers stored food among the waste; food could be either brought from home or bought from the vendors who cook at the dumpsite. Some drank bottled water picked from the waste. Eighty-five percent of females cleaned themselves immediately after work in temporary shacks at the dumpsite, while all males bathed at home. The average monthly income from scavenging was approximately R1372 (approximately $91 (US)). Women scavengers liked their job despite associated health risks. Conclusion. Scavengers would benefit if government and nongovernmental organisations educate them on the significance of protective clothing and good hygiene. Policymakers should assist the scavengers by providing necessary workshops on-site that will assist them to change their behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9458156
JournalJournal of Environmental and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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