Peddling Trash: Waste Management and Income Generation

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Daily quantities are sold for daily needs in Nairobi’s ever-growing slums.

Called the kidogo economy, Swahili for ’little’, laundry detergent, margarine and anything else manufacturers haven’t packaged in small boxes are divided and resold in tiny affordable sachets.

In this context of severe urban poverty, micro-enterprise isn’t a buzz word. It’s a lifestyle.

So it’s appropriate that a solid waste management program here, coordinated by Worldbike, a non-profit that designs, distributes, and promotes load-carrying bicycles as a solution to development challenges worldwide, the local Soweto Youth Group and UN-HABITAT, the UN human settlements agency, runs on very small profits.

A door-to-door pick up service is only £0.17. If that’s too pricey for their clients in the Soweto neighbourhood of Kibera, Nairobi’s largest and most famous slum, you can drop off the rubbish yourself at the nearby collection centre for half the price.

Andrew Hall, Worldbike’s project manager in Kenya, describes their goals as ’income generation, livelihood creation and essential service provision, but usually in the model they go hand in hand’.

Waste = livelihood

To accomplish this, they’re developing sustainable solid waste management businesses for and in partnership with poor communities. ’People need solid waste management. That’s an essential service,’ Hall says. ’But we also want to do it in a way that creates livelihoods.’

Source: The Ecologist (link opens in a new window)