Since 2006 Retos al Sur has been managing in Montevideo and in other provinces of Uruguay productive and social care projects to provide a socio-economic inclusion programs to different groups of women and young people.
According to UNDP Report (April 2009) Uruguay, the only middle income country in the DaO process, shows high levels of inequality, poverty, exclusion, and institutional weaknesses that hinder the achievement of sustained and sustainable development. Furthermore, Uruguay has suffered from sharp, deep and cyclical, economic crises in the last decades that had devastating effects among the most vulnerable population (the young, women, minorities, etc.).
Because Uruguay is one of the 96 countries in the world labelled as a "Middle Income Country" - and, within that group, one of the 44 countries labelled as "high-middle income countries"-, it has not been eligible to receive sufficient cooperation for development.
Nevertheless, over the last four decades, the Uruguayan society has faced serious problems or obstacles to reach higher levels of human development: in particular, to achieve sustained and sustainable economic growth, to reduce the incidence of poverty and inequality in income distribution and to strengthen the quality of its institutions and policies. The fact of being a "high-middle income" country does not imply that Uruguay has assured, in the mid and long term, the human development indicators reached.
Uruguayan society in recent years has experienced a process of fragmentation and breakdown generating, as a result, an higher poverty growth (including poverty in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, reaching levels similar to 1986), a deterioration in basic indicators of child development, an increased inequality in income distribution, the persistence of inequalities in educational performance generated by the social context of students and, last, residential segregation inside the largest cities.
The evolution of poverty in Uruguay during the last twenty years can be clearly defined in three different phases: the first one, between 1985 and 1994, was characterized by the general growth of the economy and, at the same time, the decline in poverty rates (from 46.2% to 15.3%: INE 2002); the second one, between 1995 and 1998, was marked by the stagnation or slight deterioration of social indicators; due to the international crisis which influenced the entire zone, the last phase, from 1999 to 2004, was characterized by a deep increase of the levels of deprivation (from 15.3% to 32.1%: INE 2005) and the historical increase in poverty rates (from 1.2% to 4%: INE 2004 and 2005.)
In a general background characterized by migration from the countryside zones to the poorest livelihoods of the cities, urban solid waste pickers groups represent an important subject for the whole Latin American region. As a matter of fact, the informal work of picking solid waste represents a survival tool for millions of people worldwide and it becomes an effective alternative to survive.
However, this category of workers is not well considered by the society. First of all, picking solid waste is not considered as a job. Second, the garbage is considered as something useless to be thrown away and to hide from people's eyes. Who works with garbage is therefore regarded as a rejection of society and suffers from stereotypes.
However, the waste pickers groups play a very important role in a sustainable development, in the recycling business, as environment preservation activity: this is the added value that these individuals produce for the society itself.
For this reasons, the Association Retos al Sur, since it was born, organizes waste pickers in groups in order to create little social business working in network with the final aim of improving pickers living and working conditions. In this way, waste is not seen as a problem but as a potential means of get out from poverty condition. In 2002 Uruguayan government established the Union of Municipal Solid Waste Classifier (UCRUS) with the main aim of achieving a full recognition of their work as citizens and workers in this category.