A community in Kitale Town, Kenya, has come together to transform waste into valuable recycled products to sell – an activity designed to improve livelihoods, clean up local dwellings and the environment, and improve food and energy production.
In Kitale, lack of clean energy for cooking, lighting and heating, and lack of fertiliser, led to the formation of community group Dajopen Waste Management. The group identified several ways to improve the situation, including collecting and recycling waste, planting trees on public land to increase forest cover, and the use of organic manure. A key aim of the initiative was to improve living conditions too, by eliminating the breeding grounds for mosquitoes, rodents and flies.
With support from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization the group was trained to hygienically collect, process and clean waste, and to use the waste to create products such as baskets, caps, floor mats, table mats, beads, necklaces and bags. Youths were trained in making briquettes from charcoal dust and paper pulp, thus improving their social status and incomes. Men were trained to recycle plastics into fencing posts, thereby reducing the need for wooden posts, reducing deforestation, helping to secure land and homes from land grabbers, ending housing boundary conflicts. Recycled roofing tiles were also produced, making them affordable for low-income families to improve their homes. Men were also trained to make compost from biodegradable green and solid waste, and food waste.
Most community members have increased their crop yields by using organic manure, and soil fertility has increased. Using proceeds from the recycled items, the community is now able to send its children to school and to cater for their health.
“The commitment to organic fertilizers and resuse opens the door to the promotion of healthier and more sustainable habitats. It addresses enormous problems, such as the impoverishment of soil, acidification and food sovereignty. This educational project can undoubtedly improve the quality of life of the people.”
– Alba del Campo
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