Every morning just after dawn, Saada Turkmani wakes up, puts on her bright yellow vest and green hard-hat and walks door-to-door in her Jordan valley village, picking up trash to be recycled.
Turkmani is one of 60 women who work at the Northern Shouneh sorting center which says the first of its kind in Jordan. It is part of a U.N.-backed program to try out ways to improve the country’s waste management.
The 48-year-old mother of five said her family had always struggled to make ends meet. They depended mainly on her husband for income, but he worked seasonal jobs that were not always reliable.
“I never really expected to find employment at my age,” she said. “I was surprised when they said they would hire me for this. This is the first job I’ve ever had.”
After collection, the trash from Muath Bin Jabal village is taken to a warehouse where it is sorted then compressed into cubes to be sold for scrap.
The women receive around $310 a month, described as a “cash incentive” not a salary by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which helps run the scheme.
Jordan generates 2.2 million tons of solid municipal waste per year and only 7 percent is recycled or salvaged, according to figures released by the UNDP.
Jordanian women go door-to-door recycling trash