Tuesday June 25, 2019

Kenyan Youth Group Clean Garbage while Creating Jobs for Unemployed

While taking a break from carrying garbage cans, Mutisia says that collecting waste is a dire necessity

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FILE - Children stand amid trash in a building earmarked for demolition in the Mathare neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, May 17, 2016. VOA

According to the United Nations, uncollected garbage is a growing problem in cities around the globe, especially in areas with fast-rising populations. But there are solutions, as a youth group in Kenya’s capital is demonstrating.

“My name is Isaac Mutisia. I am 35 years old, and I am the co-founder of the Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group.”

We’re in the Mathare slum of Nairobi. Six-story high brick apartment buildings are around us. Ladies are selling groceries, and men are selling plastics.

Isaac Mutisia and his colleagues enter a building and climb the narrow stairs. They come out with a big dustbin full of garbage emitting an obnoxious stench.

Some 200,000 people are believed to live in Mathare, in an area of just 2 square kilometers. The slum is not only congested with people, but also with their garbage.

According to the United Nations, one city dweller produces 1 kilogram of garbage per day. For Mathare, it means that every day 200,000 kilograms of trash finds its way into a public space.

While taking a break from carrying garbage cans, Mutisia says that collecting waste is a dire necessity.

“When you have a lot of people in one area and there is no proper way of handling waste, you find that everyone dumps waste everywhere,” he said.

Mutisia says the waste was piling up on street corners and illegal dumping sites. Doctors warn about the health effects of garbage, especially for children.

Doris Shiundi is a physician in a local clinic. In the next room a nurse is giving a sick baby a checkup.

“When you have a lot of garbage on the street like here in Mathare, most of the times we see patients who come here with diarrhea, sometimes cholera. Others come in with food poisoning because they eat on the street,” she said.

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FILE – A student empties a dustbin next to a murky stream near a school in Kenya’s Kibera slums in capital Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2015. VOA

This situation led Mutisia to do something to clean up the garbage, and at the same time meet another challenge.

“We saw the importance of making our community clean and also creating employment among ourselves because there was a challenge of unemployment,” he said.

Mutisia now has 100 youths collecting waste in the area, making money from households that pay to have their trash hauled away. Once collected, the waste is brought to a legal dumping site.

ALSO READ: Kenya Farmers Irrigate Drought-Hit Crops More Cheaply, Cleanly with Biofuel from Cotton Waste

The youths’ effort has caught the attention of local government officials, like Thomas Arimu. “We encourage the youths to copy what Kaka is doing to the neighboring community so that it becomes healthy,” he said.

Mutisia, meanwhile, is on the way to his next mission, visiting the U.N.-Habitat Assembly in Nairobi to talk about Mathare’s public spaces. His dream is to make the area as clean and green as the United Nations compound in Nairobi. (VOA)

Next Story

Nepal Climbers Retreive 4 Bodies, 11 Tonnes of Decades-Old Garbage from Mount Everest

A clean-up team of 20 sherpa climbers collected five tons of litter in April and May from different camps sites above the base camp and another six tons from the areas below

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Workers from a recycling company load garbage collected and brought from Mount Everest, in Kathmandu, Nepal, June 5, 2019. VOA

Nepali climbers have retrieved four bodies and collected some 11 tons of decades-old garbage from Mount Everest and its approach below the base camp as part of a drive to clean up the world’s highest mountain, the government said on Wednesday.

Climbers returning from the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) mountain say its slopes are littered with human excrement, used oxygen bottles, torn tents, ropes, broken ladders, cans and plastic wrappers left behind by climbers, an embarrassment for a country that earns valuable revenue from Everest expeditions.

The garbage, along with the bodies of some of the 300 people who have died over the years on Everest’s slopes, are buried under the snow during winter, but become visible when the snow melts in summer.

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FILE – Mountaineers walk near Camp One of Mount Everest, April 29, 2018, as they prepare to ascend on the south face from Nepal. VOA

A clean-up team of 20 sherpa climbers collected five tons of litter in April and May from different camps sites above the base camp and another six tons from the areas below, said Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of the Department of Tourism.

“Unfortunately, some garbage collected in bags at the South Col could not be brought down due to bad weather,” Ghimire said in a statement on Wednesday.

Everest was first conquered by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and about 5,000 people have since reached the summit. South Col, on the Southeast Ridge route pioneered by Hillary and Tenzing, is located at some 8,016 meters (26,300 feet), and it is the site of the final camp from where climbers begin their summit attempts.

Mount Everest
Mountaineering in Nepal has become a lucrative business . Pixabay

Cleaning campaign coordinator Nim Dorjee Sherpa, head of the village where Mount Everest is located, told Reuters two bodies were collected from the treacherous Khumbu Icefall and two from camp three site at the Western Cwm. “They were exposed from the snow when the sherpas picked up and brought them down,” he said.

None of the four bodies have been identified and it was not known when they died. Nine mountaineers died on the Nepali side of Everest in May while two perished on the Tibetan side, making it the deadliest climbing season since 2015.

ALSO READ: Nepali Sherpa Breaks Own Record, Climbs Everest Twice in Week

Climbers returning from Everest have talked of crowding and delays on the Nepali side just below the summit in the “death zone”, so-called because at that altitude the lack of oxygen can be fatal. However climbers and guides have blamed a host of factors for the deaths.

Ghimire, of the Department of Tourism, said the deaths were not because of congestion but due to bad weather and short summit windows. Nepal this year issued 381 permits to climb the Everest, costing $11,000 each, an important source of income for the cash-strapped nation. (VOA)