Waste in Kwa Muhia
Testimonial: Duncan Oloo, Kwa Muhia Environmental Group
“We had no waste collection service until WasteAid helped us develop a community approach to managing our rubbish sustainably by setting up a waste recycling centre within the village.
The Kwa Muhia Environmental Group (KMEG) now provides public sanitation and waste management for the 7,000 people living in a closely constructed single rooms affordable to casual employees within the region.
We (KMEG) are the ones taking care of the rubbish here and also providing sensitization and awareness to the community on proper waste handling and segregations. We are also sorting other wastes for recycling and sanitizing for reuse.
It’s important work because we are protecting the community from disease and, especially now, coronavirus.
“This global challenge prompted the government to advise the general public to remain lockdown. We therefore stopped active waste management and now partnered with community health volunteers/workers who are mandated to continue sensitizing people on how to protect themselves from spreading the virus.
Social distancing isn’t easy. The households within Kwa-Muhia village are congested! It’s not possible to stay two metres from each other or even to quarantine should need be. Meanwhile unemployment has struck us heavily, with many from the nearby flower companies sent home.
We don’t have much to help combat the spread of the virus. We are vulnerable. A well-wisher (a water and sanitation company) has installed one handwashing station by the roadside for community to use only during the outbreak and lockdown period.
KMEG in conjunction with community health volunteers/workers is currently planning to improve sanitation services to the community to control the spread of virus as well as other diseases.
We are as committed as ever to community health and environmental health. Our whole village is connected to WasteAid and we are grateful to be working together to overcome this challenge.”
WasteAid supporters have already provided essential sanitation equipment – thank you. Together we can help more communities through this very difficult time. Please support the appeal.
BBC interview: Tackling the reality of the ‘idyllic’ Lake Naivasha
“Look at any tourist photos of Lake Naivasha in Kenya’s famous Rift Valley and you’ll see calm waters teeming with hippos, birds and giraffe.
But for the people living on the shoreline the reality can be very different.
A recent study found that 70% of waste generated in the area ends up in the lake – even though its water is used by the local community for drinking.
Now Duncan Oloo has had enough of the situation and set up Kwa-Muhia Environmental Group which – supported by Waste Aid and British waste firm Biffa – is building a new recycling centre and employing local people to make useful products out of the waste.”
Testimonial: Dean Willett, Biffa
Kwa-Muhia resides on the edge of Lake Navaisha, a freshwater lake covering some 140km2 at an elevation of 6000ft. It is an internationally important site supporting some 400 bird species and a good size hippo population. It provides drinking water for Kwa-Muhia and the neighbouring towns and villages, water for the horticultural farms and water for the neighbouring thermal electric power plants that provide 15% of Kenya’s electricity.
Kwa-Muhia itself is a village of approximately 7000 people, mostly migrant workers who work at the neighbouring horticultural farms. They grow mostly flowers for the European market inside vast poly tunnels. Virtually all residents exist below the poverty line. The municipalities do not provide waste collection, instead licencing contractors to collect waste, who in turn charge plot owners/residents for collection. However as most have barely sufficient funds to survive, paying for waste collection is very low down the priority list.
It is estimated that 70% of unattended waste in Kwa-Muhia ends up in Lake Navaisha. The waste (mostly plastics, organics, paper, glass etc) is dumped, burnt or washed into ditches which block, causing local flooding and stagnant water.
The resulting effect on human health in Kwa-Muhia and the neighbouring villages is problematic, with many residents (mostly children) suffering from diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera.
The local healthcare worker said that the number of cases of diarrhoea in children has dropped 60% since the village clean up in January.
KMEG currently have a temporary site in the village, with an office, training room, works room and storage. The area is very small and only allows for some basic waste activities, which include;
- Storage of recyclables – glass, plastics, card/paper etc. No organics
- Manufacture of drinking glasses from old bottles and briquettes from charcoal dust.
KMEG are working with WasteAid, using UK Aid funding, to develop a waste collection and recycling system in Kwa Muhia. They will build a facility to manage a wider range of wastes, which in addition to the manufacturing of products for sale, will also include bulking of plastics and other recyclables for sale and composting of organics.
KMEG intend to expand its use, to include neighbouring villages to ensure long-term funding.