Controlling the informal sector: Solid waste collection and the Addis Ababa City administration, 2003-2005
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- Institutt for geografi 
This study is about the intervention of the Addis Ababa City Government in regulating door-to-door solid waste collection activity, which was handled by the pre-existing informal solid waste collectors. The intervention was done by organizing and integrating government sponsored Micro and Small Scale Enterprises (MSSEs). Thus, the study examines how the pre-existing informal solid waste collecting actors were organized and functioning; the intentions of the intervention; the responses of the informal solid waste collecting actors and its implications on the existing interactions among various actors in the power matrix of solid waste collection. The actor-oriented approach is adopted as a theoretical framework in order to address the problems at hand. The actor-oriented approach has an analytical power in examining how external interventions entered into the life worlds of actors, mediated, incorporated and often substantially transformed by the ongoing interactions that take place between the pre-existing actors and the newly intervening MSSEs. Moreover, it signifies how actors in the solid waste collection are involved in a series of `battles´ over resources, institutional legitimacy and control. Methodologically the actor-oriented approach presupposes in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of individuals. Accordingly, this study depends on qualitative techniques. The study focuses on three selected enterprises from the informal, private formal and MSSEs. Apart from this, the views of individuals from other similar enterprises were considered so as to get a more comprehensive picture of the problem. Door-to-door solid waste collection as an employment sector has drawn the attention of the provisional city government since it’s very set up in 2003. Consequently, the city government organized and integrated several MSSEs without due consideration of the pre-existing informal solid waste collectors who have accumulated experience and knowledge in the sector. This study also evidenced that the integration of the MSSEs is a more politicized intervention driven by merely boosting the employment figure and ensuring political control. The pre-existing informal solid waste collectors react to the government intervention in different ways; among others, conflicts, competition and cooperation against the MSSEs and rarely negotiations are worth mentioning. The rivalry interactions and intense competition between the pre-existing and newly integrated MSSEs adversely affected the revenues of the enterprises and the working environment as a whole. The MSSEs who are obviously operating based on loans from formal financial institutions are less likely to pay back their debt and simultaneously to finance the wages of the operators. So that the MSSEs are highly susceptible to disintegration and of course many do so. Consequently, the city government is trapped within the cycle of organizing and integrating many new MSSEs into the sector while others are getting dissolved. This calls for a more inclusive intervention with sound understanding of how the pre-existing informal solid waste collecting enterprises have been operating and keen identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing system. Moreover, politicising such interventions for the sake of advancing other interests complicates the problem than do as part of the solution.