The urban centres in Kenya generate a lot of solid waste. The data available for Nairobi city indicate that it generates 2 million tonnes of waste every day of which only 40% is collected by the County government and disposed through Dandora dumpsite (figures to be confirmed). The rest of the waste is left to rot and litter the environment.
A closer look at the waste generated in Kenyan urban centres reveals that it comprises of 60% organic waste, 20% recyclables (figures to be confirmed) and only a small fraction which is hazardous. Hence it is easy for Kenya to recover and recycle most of the waste generated and in this case ensure that the proliferation of illegal dumpsites and littering of the environment is arrested.
A closer look at what happens to our waste shows that a few people especially the youth have dedicated themselves to collect the waste and dispose it on behalf of the people. However only the estates housing the middle and affluent people have been able to engage these waste handlers. The majority of residential estates do not have any form of waste management and dumping is done haphazardly, with the hope that the urban authorities would collect and dispose this waste. Hence our urban centres remain dirty.
It is also evident that the people who engage in waste entrepreneurship are not the most learned. Some are school dropouts at various levels. Most have never attended a waste management course and only engaged in this business as last option.
A study at the courses offered at learning institutions reveals that there are no courses offered on waste entrepreneurship. The closest course available is at Diploma and degree level on waste management. Hence many of the people dealing with waste management do not have opportunities to develop their skills on waste management.
NEMA through Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) for Greater Nairobi has hatched a plan to ensure that as much waste is collected, reused and recycled. The scheme also targets employment of the youth as well as enhancement of their livelihood. The youth participating in this project are expected to become economically empowered through employing themselves and others.
This project was started at the Ngong dumpsite and has contributed to increase waste recovery and economic empowerment of the youth in that town. Already NEMA has constructed sheds where the waste collected by the over 150 youth group members could be stored before being sold to the waste processors. The success of this initiative has led to the upscaling planned for the project in form of a waste entrepreneurship school for the youth on waste management. This project won the Global RCE Award at Okayama Japan from the United Nations University on 7th November 2014.
The project is conceptualized as follows:
1. Identification and mapping of diverse waste value addition enterprises within the Nairobi region. It is notable that the waste value chain is diverse whereby some entrepreneurs sort the waste and sell without value addition, while other establishments make other products from the waste such as Kiondo, baskets, flower vases, mats, roofing and floor tiles, plastic bottles and containers, toys, organic manure etc. These enterprises were mapped and their capacity to support the waste capacity building assessed.
2. Capacity building of the waste handling enterprises to enhance them to become learning centres. In this regard, the waste handling entrepreneurs attended a training session organized by RCE Greater Nairobi to develop their capacity to become training facilities. This is a Trainer of Trainer session whereby the facility owners are trained on vision and mission of the initiative, how the training is organized, the kind of learners expected, how they’d be trained and any support needed. During the session, the waste entrepreneurs are allowed to air their concerns and what needs to be explained further. NEMA and RCE Greater Nairobi are keen to secure the waste entrepreneurs commitment to support the training programme. This commitment is necessary since this is a Public-Private Partnership where each party has a role to play for the success of the initiative.
3. Admission and coordination of the learning process – This is done jointly by NEMA and RCE Greater Nairobi. The participants level of education is not a major consideration and any level of education and qualification is admitted. However, the level of education is noted to assist during course delivery to ensure language and approaches are appropriate.
4. Offering of the Course – The course is offered at different sites but mainly at the private sector sites where learners are attached to learn and participate in practical activities. The trainers are encouraged to spare adequate time with the learner to ensure that they acquire adequate skills.
5. What happens after the course? The outcome of this initiative is to ensure that there is increase in amounts of waste recovered, reused and recycled. Hence a participants allumni has been established whereby they are followed to track what they do after the training. Since waste is plenty and freely available in the environment, it is expected that each of the participants would initiate their own enterprise. Efforts are also being done to link participants to financial enterprises for startup financing for their initiatives.
6. Monitoring impact: The following are some of the indicators of success for this project
a. Number of youths who successfully finish the training
b. Number of new waste enterprises initiated by the graduands from the course
c. Tonnage of waste handled by the participants
d. Changes in income/revenue generated by participants
e. Number of people employed by waste enterprises
f. Number of waste value addition innovations
Overall, this project is expected to contribute to clean and healthy environment for Kenyans and to sustainable development. It is also expected that once the project is offered successfully in RCE Greater Nairobi, it will be replicated in other regions of Kenya and possibly other developing countries.