Youth initiative solving the waste menace in Kibera

Margaret Ngendo Uncategorized December 19, 2022

By Margret Ngendo

An initiative that was born out of a desire to eke a living for youth in Kibera, is not only tackling pollution through proper waste management but also improving the aesthetics of the area.

When Eliakim Mwangi, was thinking of a solution to unemployment for himself and his friends, he didn’t have any idea of how it would impact them and the community as well. In May 2021, he mobilized three of his friends with an idea of collecting and disposing solid waste from households. This would not only help clean the environment in Silanga area in Kibera where he came from but also conveniently collect waste from the residents by going from door to door.

The 23-year-old was determined to change the image of Silanga which was regarded as the dirtiest area in Kibera. “Silanga had earned this negative tag because all drainage systems in kibera get rid of their waste in this area,” says Eliakim. With the little savings they had, Eliakim and his team bought spades and wheelbarrows and were ready to start their waste collection initiative. They have not looked back ever since.

The team dubbed Wana Umoja charges a weekly fee of Ksh. 30 to each household for waste collection which they do once per week, every Sunday morning. After collecting the waste, they sort it to remove plastics which they recyle to make products such as basins, bottles, plates, water tanks and cups. They then sell these products to local buyers at Sh. 20 per Kg. The project recently got into a partnership with Vintz Plastics Limited, a recycling company to boost their capacity in recycling plastics.

In July last year, the project also received a donation of wheelbarrows, spades and a Mkokoteni from the then area Member of Parliament Nixon Korir to aid in their operations. “The donation gave the project a major boost,” says Eliakim.
Wana Umoja efforts have not only led to creation of employment but are also helping tackle environmental pollution caused by poor waste management. The initiative is also key in curbing the spread of communicable diseases such as typhoid caused by poor sanitation.

“From initially working with four people, the waste collection project that targets Lindi and Kianda areas has expanded to create employment for 20 youths in Kibera,” notes Eliakim. In future, the team aspires to build a school for the community.

Before the waste collection initiative was introduced Annette Busolo, a resident of Lindi littered the environment for lack of a better alternative to dispose waste. “The area around our houses was always littered and was not pleasing to the eye,” says Annette. Besides the improper waste disposal was a health hazard and risked spreading diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

Annette notes that efforts by Wana Umoja have not only improved the outlook and cleanliness of the surroundings but also offered residents a cheap way to get rid of waste. “This group collects waste from our households even on days that we cannot afford to pay the Ksh. 30. The impact of their efforts cannot be ignored,” she says.

The project that is giving Silanga area a facelift has not been devoid of challenges. Eliakim notes that the group often struggles with shortage of protective gear such as gloves, overalls, and gumboots. Additionally, some of the households are not able to pay the weekly charge.
Despite the challenges the group is determined to continue tackling pollution in the area through proper waste management and empower youths and the community by creating employment. “I hope to leave a positive mark in Silanga area, this is where I grew up, so it’s up to us to take care of it” says Eliakim.

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