Owing to the centralised location of waste disposal collection points in Kibera’s Laini Saba area, the ease of waste disposal for members of the community is a challenge. Residents travel quite a distance to access waste management areas. This results in the disposal of waste at any convenient locale leading to poor environmental hygiene. Even though the vast majority of Kibera’s residents do not wear masks for protection against COVID-19 infection due to limited disposable income, those who do wear them do not dispose of them correctly.
Improper waste disposal results in clogging of the drainage system. It presents an even graver concern when children in the community use areas close to the waste matter as their playground.
Residents of Kibera also lack access to adequate water supply for proper hand hygiene and human consumption. With the poor environmental hygiene standards in the area, lack of access to water and proper waste disposal implies that the health standards in the area are below the county average. Nevertheless, a local NGO operating in Kibera provides water to ease the strain.
Environmental Clean-Up Day
Working in partnership with the youth-led Youth Empowerment and Development Network Kenya (YED-N Kenya), Amref Health Africa in Kenya through the European Union-funded COVID-19 response programme supported an environmental clean-up day in Laini Saba on Tuesday, 18 August 2020.
Activities of the #AngamizaCorona environmental clean-up day included keynote remarks and speeches from invited dignitaries led by the Chief Guest, Dr Pacifica Onyancha, who is the Head of Preventive and Promotive Health at the Ministry of Health. Other speakers at the launch included Dr Meshack Ndirangu (Country Director, Amref Health Africa in Kenya), Dr Ndinda Kusu (Country Program Director, USAID MTaPS), Dr Maureen Kimani (Head, Division of Community Health, Ministry of Health), and Ms Halima (Kenya Red Cross Society). Adam Israel (Chair) and Mohammed Lakicha (Secretary-General) of the YED Network made brief remarks before the launch expressing gratitude to the various working with the organisation.
Speaking at the launch, Amref’s Country Director Dr Ndirangu appealed to participants to fight COVID-19 and not the people affected by the disease.
The multi-partner collaborative initiative brought in support from various partners including the office of the Kibra Member of the National Assembly MP Imran Okoth, the National Youth Service (NYS) Laini Saba Branch, the Laini Saba Youth Group, Amref Health Africa in Kenya and the YED Network Nairobi team. With support from the European Union in Kenya, Amref provided personal protective equipment.
The YED Network Nairobi team ensured strict adherence to the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) waste management policy. They worked with NYS Laini Saba Branch members for onward disposal at the Kibera waste collection point.
Working with Youth Champions
A team of over 35 youth drawn from the YED Network were involved in the project, including nine referrals from National Government Administration Officers (NGAOs), as well as the area MP to ensure ease of community entry. The team also had representation from people with disabilities.
The youth were taken through a COVID-19 MTaPS training before the exercise that covered topics such as waste management whereby participants received guidance on how best to handle various types of wastes, both hazardous and non-hazardous. The handling of hazardous waste was only to be done by personnel who had adequate PPE designed for such an activity.
Partnerships for Good
Affirming the critical role that partnerships continue to play in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, local partner SHOFCO provided two (2) handwashing stations. Members of the Laini Saba Youth Group provided the grounds for the pre-launch ceremony at no cost, and residents including local youth and invited dignitaries joined the YED Network team in the clean-up exercise.
Local youth groups pledged to proper mask disposal and also committed to carrying out regular environmental clean-up campaigns for the benefit of the community. The local government administration led by the NGAOs pledged to assist in ensuring that the Laini Saba NYS and Kazi Mtaani contingents join hands with the community in doing more to ensure the environment is safe.
From the launch, the local community shall take individual responsibility towards making sure they dispose of waste matter appropriately. For sustainability, local area leaders committed to engaging the NMS in ensuring that waste collection points are decentralised.
The #AngamizaCorona, environmental clean-up exercise, is a critical component in combating COVID-19 as clean environments reduce disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Through multi-sector partnerships that bring together the public and private sector, communities are better placed in securing assistance to address problems that might be too complex for them to handle on their own.