Saturday, 11 April 2009

Put Your Hands Up For Nairobi... I Love This City!

We just had our big kickoff meeting on Friday and it was huge success. We had over 35 representatives of youth groups from around the city of Nairobi attending the presentation held at the Nairobi YMCA.

For those of you that don’t know about the project; we (Sean McHugh, Nathaniel Canuel and Justin Sekiguchi of the Environmental Youth Alliance) are starting a waste management program that empowers community-based youth groups in their garbage collections and recycling. We started our project last year with the Soweto Youth Group based in the slum of Kibera to build a waste management centre and we have now expanded the program to two more slums: Mathare and Makadara.

This year we have invited all of the youth groups from the Mathare and Makadara constituencies to participate in the program and to create a network that allows them to share resources, knowledge and markets. We will be building a waste management centre in each area and it will be shared by the various groups that serve that region. Construction will be followed by business and marketing development workshops to help the groups improve their existing services.

Yesterday’s turnout was over 35 heads of each group which represent somewhere around 600-700 youth. The presentation was given by EYA manager Melanda Schmid. The room was full of youth that have been doing door to door garbage collection for years and combined have an enormous amount of experience and knowledge. The overall reaction to the program was very positive and having all of the different groups in one room was an amazing sight.

During the discussion portion of the meeting we had asked the audience various questions to learn about their experiences with waste collection, when we asked the groups to tell us about problems they had encountered we heard a variety of issues that can impede groups from doing the collection (such as non-payment from customers, interference by politicians, hazardous working environment, etc…). The moment that things really started to change was when groups began to share various techniques that they had used to overcome the issues other groups were having, the answers to these youths’ problems were sitting right beside them.

So from here we will be designing the finer details of our project with the inputs from the groups and start the implementation as early as this week. There is still lots of work that needs to be done but we are excited to see how all of this unfolds and anticipate many twists and turns in the next three months.

Stay tuned…

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