By Emily Mikwa
The County Department of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources through a multi-sector partnership with Community Empowerment and Media Initiative in Kisumu (CEMI-K), Science Africa and the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) organised a three day training for Kisumu Journalists on effective reporting of community-based urban waste management held at the Royal Gardens Hotel in Kisumu.
The training is part of the activities of The Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health (CUSSH), a project that aims to deliver key global research on the systems that connect urban development and population health through public engagement.
The training also focuses on sharpening the skills of the journalists to identify stories that can change perception and behavior in waste management in in the four targeted informal settlements: Manyatta, Obunga, Nyalenda and Kondele
According to the facilitators Mr.Otula Owuor and Mr. Daniel Otungefrom Science Africa, solution journalism is key to any journalistic work. It advocates for reporting on responses to social problems which aims to rebalance news by exposing people to stories that help them understand their problems and challenges.
Prior to visiting waste collection sites in Obunga, the Director Environment and Stewardship Mr.KennKoyooh gave the scenario of waste management in Kisumu saying statistics indicate that Kisumu county is generating about 400 tons of waste daily of which 63% are organic while 35% can be recycled.
He acknowledged the key role played by the CBOs in collecting waste in the informal settlements to keep the areas clean. however he admits that there are also illegal waste handlers who have infiltrated the business hindering the recycling activities
Mr. Koyooh also noted that the exercise is marred with a lot of challenges due to little funding hence inadequate bins for sorting wastes, and skips to transport waste from the holding stations regularly.
He called on the public to give priority to waste management funding especially during public participation and budget making process.
During the field visit to Obunga on the third day of the training, Journalists had an interactive session with Obunga CBOs who deal in waste collection and recycling. Having an interview with some of their leaders, it was evident that waste collection can be a game changer like any other business.
Phanice Awuor, a business management graduate from MasindeMuliro University after tarmacking in vain, resorted to form a youth CBO in Obunga to collect waste as asource of theirlivelihood.
“ After failing to secure a white collar job, we came together as youths and identified waste management as a threat to a clean environment in Obunga, people used to throw litter anyhow so we embarked on waste management as a business and today I take home Ksh. 18,000 every month”. Said Phanice.
Another waste management CBO called Jamis Taka Investment in Obunga initiated by Mr. Isaiah Odhiambo, comprises of 20youths who earn a living from waste collection at the rate of Ksh. 30 to 50 per collection per household.
“The proceeds from this investment helps me pay my rent and fend for my family, I make a fortune of Ksh 16,000 per month and I have also employed 20 youth who earn a salary” said Mr. Odhiambo.
Mr. Dickens Hillary Ochieng owns Taka Poa Company, he collects waste in Manyatta and Hotels within Kisumu.
“When I started this job, rumors went round that I had become mad, many did not want to associate with me but today I have employed 10 people and I have a family. I earn Ksh. 100,000 per month as gross salary. I have also diversified to emptying pit latrines. The challenge we face is that some clients refuse to pay after the services and in some cases the issue of lost items arise which sometimes lead to police cases”. Said Mr. Ochieng.
Mr. Samson Otieno from Nyalenda also formed a youth group dealing in waste collection which he says has helped him in educating his children.
“Two of my sons have graduated from the proceeds of waste collection, one must be dirty to make money, and my survival is due to waste collection. Otherwise the challenges we face is stigmatization and discrimination as waste collectors”. Said Mr. Otieno.