Oxfam is supporting young men and women in Kenya’s urban slums to help improve the areas where they live.
In the Mukuru district of Nairobi, for example, each month members of Youth Initiatives Kenya, a network of 12 local Oxfam-supported youth groups, get together for a community clean-up. This includes collecting rubbish and unblocking 'drains' – simple roadside channels which carry waste water and even sewerage, and are a breeding ground for diseases.
Oxfam provides the equipment volunteers need – gumboots, rubber gloves, facemasks, rakes and hoes – vital for their job and to protect them from the health hazards of keeping the area clean. But it's about more than just clean streets.
This project is part of Oxfam's urban programme aimed at providing a better standard of life for people living in poor neighbourhoods and increasing opportunities for sustainable livelihoods by giving people more say in their futures.
Helping young people to form groups has turned many away from crime in areas where there is little employment. While many are volunteers in community clean-ups and waste recycling, there is also an economic motive. Typically a group will collect domestic rubbish weekly and make a small charge to each household. Waste is sorted for re-sellable materials including paper, metals and especially plastics. Some are sold on to middlemen but soon the groups may potentially be able to carry out their own recycling. Roughly half the waste is organic and some groups are becoming involved in composting.