WasteAid’s team in Kenya have been busy developing waste services in Kwa Muhia, thanks to UK Aid funding. Jill Matthews has sent this update…

In Kwa-Muhia many residents rent a room in a plot. Until now those renting rooms have put their household waste into sacks that are collected from the plot sporadically.

But the waste experts at KMEG want to remove the waste in those sacks which can be re-used or recycled – the waste that has value. After some thought and discussions with the residents, the plot-owners and Waste-Aid, KMEG came up with an idea. The group decided to trial a new system to collect and separate waste on 6  plots.

 

For each plot in the trial KMEG bought 3×120 litre bins, a green bin, a blue, bin and red bin. The green bin is for bio-degradable food waste like fruit and vegetables which KMEG can turn into compost;  the blue bin is for waste which KMEG can recycle – plastics, tins and paper; and the red bin is for waste which KMEG can’t use  and which has to be taken to the dumpsite near Naivasha 30km away.

KMEG employed a technical adviser to hold meetings with the residents and explain to them how to use the bins correctly.  

The trial started in October.  KMEG have listened to the feedback from the residents and have modified the 3 bin system in response.

For example, the residents couldn’t remember which waste to put in which bin so KMEG added labels in Kiswahili to the bins to make it clearer, and because the bins were often knocked over, KMEG  have built frames to hold the bins securely.

How well is the trial going? Generally, it’s going great, but nothing’s ever perfect! The trial involves 6 plots with 141 households and 300 people (about 5% of the population living in Kwa-Muhia). As well as leading the sensitisation of plot owners and tenants at the start of the trial, the technical adviser also designed a datasheet for KMEG staff to gather information on their daily visits to the bins.

The good news is that 65% of the residents on the 6 plots took part in the initial sensitisation and all of them, yes 100%, were willing to take part in the 3-bin recycling trial.  

However, once the bins were in place the data showed that about half the residents segregated their waste correctly into the right bin, but the other half of the people still mixed up their wastes. The residents requested more help and more time to change their behaviour.

Digging a bit deeper into why they hadn’t changed, KMEG’s advisor uncovered further issues to think about. One issue is that waste is already mixed in a small bin inside the house before it is  taken outside to the bins; another issue is that it is often children who take the waste to the 3 bins and they muddle up the wastes; and other issue is that people living on plots which don’t pay to have their waste removed are dumping waste in the trial plots.

A further worrying observation was that some shops and residents continue to dump or burn their waste on the streets. In the light of these initial results KMEG and WasteAid are thinking how to improve the 3 bin system before rolling out the system to the whole village.

WasteAid has been able to re-assure KMEG that such problems are very common around the world, they are not unique to Kwa-Muhia. In high-income countries householders can also be very lazy about segregating household waste. However, if we want to keep our planet healthy, we must all get better at managing our waste, wherever we live in the world.

KMEG’s initiative for zero-waste in Kwa-Muhia is a part of a pioneering worldwide movement.

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