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Greening, cleaning, and conserving the environment for sustainable development – Kenya

This project is getting youths from Nairobi slums to plant trees and recycle. The initiative engages young people in tree-planting and recycling of organic and inorganic waste, increasing forest cover and providing a purer city environment while providing work for a population lacking in job opportunities.  

Fast facts:

  • 1,645 trees planted
  • 200 youths engaged
  • Aim to increase forest cover by 5 per cent in Nairobi County

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The problem

In Nairobi, the local government and private sector collects only 60 per cent of waste generated in the city. The rest remains where it is discarded, or is burned or dumped in open areas and pits, causing environmental degradation and health hazards for urban residents. In low-income areas, where up to 60 per cent of the population lives, local authorities have not been able to cope with increasing waste as the population grows, and provide almost no waste collection services. The country’s burgeoning population is also encroaching on forests, cutting down trees and taking up land where the forest once grew. The situation shows how poverty and environmental concerns are interrelated, and need to be addressed simultaneously.

The solution

This project tackles environmental problems and poverty at once by encouraging slum youth to plant trees and make money off recycling. The initiative oversaw planting of more than 1,500 native trees in Ngong Road Forest, including clearing weeds and replacing seedlings that died from too much rain.

The initiative has also trained the young people on to handle solid waste, ranging from trash collection and segregation at source to compost manure production and  collection of non-biodegradable waste for sale. The project links youths to companies for selling their recyclables and provides materials for waste collection and seedling growing efforts. The youth also distribute educational materials on waste management and environmental conservation.

Helping the planet

Planting trees sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, helps stabilize land, mitigates pollution and prevents evaporation of moisture from dirt. It’s thus helping fight climate change while improving soils and watersheds, as well as cleaning the air and water. Since the trees are native species, they help create habitat and promote biodiversity. Proper management of solid waste also prevents water and air pollution, while recycling reduces extraction of natural resources. Composting organic waste decreases release of methane, a greenhouse gas, while the final product enriches soils and enhances their ability to retain moisture.

Helping people

The street boys and girls from Kibera and Korogocho slums have directly benefitted from being empowered to sell compost and recyclables. All city dwellers get to enjoy a more pleasant and hygienic urban environment. Similarly, all Nairobi residents benefit from enhanced ecological balance in the reforested areas.

Spillover effect

The environmental and socio-economic challenges being addressed cut across the nation – upon successful implementation of this pilot project, there are plans to roll it out across the entire country.





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