Nairobi County, a city with over 4.5 Million residents generates 3,000 tons of solid waste daily. Poor waste management, coupled with the rising urban pressure continues to increase risks of environmental degradation in the Capital. With the growing carelessness in waste disposal by Nairobi residents, roadsides have turned into dumping sites, open fields to landfills, rivers to channels of waste, and our homes into eyesores. All these estates with one theme in common, that ‘the government of the land is not working hard enough.’
Unfortunately, residents have entertained a life of blame game and mindset that this Member of parliament, that Member of the County Assembly or the President of the day is responsible for the polluted air, water, and even soil. The government is largely responsible for policymaking and implementation, however, Citizen responsibility is at the core of sustainable waste management.
Nyayo Estate through various initiatives by its occupants has proven over time that individual responsibility leading up to community responsibility is the future of waste management. The Estate situated in the eastern lands of Nairobi, off Mombasa Road is managing its own waste without depending on the government of the land but solely through individual responsibility.
The estate sits on 220 acres with housing compromising of apartments in 82 courts and mansionette zones.
Estate residents both homeowners and tenants today enjoy fresh air, clean trenches, and compound thanks to the ‘Taka Fit’ initiative that was started in the year 2020 in collaboration with Nyayo Estate Residents Association (NERA). What used to be an eyesore is the pride of occupants who say they had to clean up and adopt a culture of responsibility from how they dispense their waste in their houses to dumping at collection centers constructed around the estates.
Norah Mugita, the chair of ‘Taka Fit’ tells me that Nyayo estate was as messy as most estates in Nairobi County, with papers lying here, banana peels there, kitchen waste in the trenches, and a bad odor due to delayed collection time leading to decomposition.
Just like in many estate dumpsites, Ms. Mugita lets me know that cats, rats, vultures, and roaches infested their neighborhood and settled in comfortably due to unmanaged waste. This however came to an end when Norah Mugita and other residents came together and their desperation for a clean environment birthed ‘Taka Fit’. Meaning waste is good, only if well managed.
Through the use of social media platforms; WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram among others they began sensitizing other residents on the importance of proper and sustainable waste management. Sensitization moved from virtual to physical and they began holding meetings to educate House helps, members, and owners on proper disposal of waste. Also, they had to make residents understand how they can turn waste into wealth.
This means to sort. Residents carry out sorting in their houses where they separate organic waste, plastic, and general waste before taking it to the dumping area. By separating them, the leaking of watery stuff is controlled from house level and what is put into trash papers is adequately dry. Waste segregation also makes it easier to recycle waste and this means less waste goes to landfills.
Meaning tie and in this sense tightly and decently to avoid pouring waste en route to the dumping site and at the site. When all residents mind how they enclose their waste in provided bags and those they self-improvise, the dumping site will not have waste scattered or leaked components.
Meaning ‘carry’, this part is crucial for residents to avoid littering the compound with waste, either intentionally or unintentionally. This means that the responsibility is only given to able members of the house who will ensure environmental safety.
This means ‘close’. After effectively following the simple process and getting the waste into the dumping area, persons are obliged to close the door after themselves to keep away children, cats, rats, birds, and other pests that may tamper with the waste awaiting collection by garbage tracks.
This is an approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment, In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste linear model.
Through waste segregation, Nyayo estate is providing ground for a Circular Economy by partnering with CocaCola Beverages Africa and PETCO. The companies have come in to help residents turn waste into wealth through recycling which is providing jobs for local youth and reducing service costs for residents who gain from what they dump.
According to Norah Mugita, the initiative is looking to partner with more stakeholders in sustainable waste management and at the same time increase employment slots for youth in the residential area. The circular economy aims to achieve a clean, conserved environment and monetary returns from daily waste. Recently, Nyayo Estate was awarded circularity plaque for only gated community in East Africa to have successful segregated material waste