Leveraging on youth action to promote sustainable waste management practices in Kisumu

July 12, 2022

Like many other urban cities, Kisumu is grappling with increasing waste generation, overflowing dumpsites, and pollution from uncontrolled discarding of waste. Globally, the ripple effect of environmental degradation is also being witnessed, posing dire risks for future generations’ quality of life. The need for immediate intervention is now.

The Complex Urban Systems for Sustainable Health (CUSSH) enrichment project is run by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), University College London (UCL), County Government of Kisumu, and the Community Empowerment and Media Initiative in Kisumu. The project is leveraging youth action to promote sustainable urban waste management practices within communities in Kisumu.

In a recent two-day capacity strengthening workshop in Kisumu, 11 youth from four informal settlements, namely; Kondele, Obunga, Nyalenda, and Manyatta, were trained on essential journalism communication skills and social media.

 “The youth are a great conduit in relaying information to several actors within their community. By equipping and enhancing them with these skills, we will enable them to better collect, package, and disseminate sustainable urban waste management information within their communities,” said Bernard Okebe (CEMI-K) about the workshop’s objective.

The sessions were heavily anchored on social media platforms to report or document their stories as they are easily accessible. To date, 4.62 billion people use social media in their daily lives. Thanks to the ever-evolving technological innovations and inventions, it has become the best communication medium. The uses of social media remain vast. At a personal level, social media allows us to communicate with friends and family, be entertained, and develop new skills and interests. Social media also enables organizations to converse with their audience and gain feedback.

Ambia Musa – in purple, facilitating a group discussion session with the youth at the workshop.

“The youth have a lot to offer on waste management, especially with the emergence of social media. One youth can mobilize thousands with just a click from their phone,” says Ambia Musa, a Kisumu-based journalist working with Peace FM, a faith-based community radio station. During the workshop, she facilitated a session on how to source stories on waste management. Musa walked the youth champions through the process of identifying newsworthy content and news story writing. This training session highlights the mentorship relationship between experienced journalists and the youth champions they support to tell stories in their locales.

Allan Musumba, Communication Officer (APHRC), facilitated a session on networking and advocacy. He laid out the various types of advocacy and the necessary skills to advocate for a particular cause, in this case, solid waste management. Damaris Sika, an early childhood teacher, spoke about why she got involved in the workshop, “In my area, Nyalenda, proper waste disposal is a great challenge. Waste is often disposed of carelessly along the road or on footpaths making it hard to navigate, especially on rainy days.” Sika believes in advocating for better waste management practices to help reduce potential health risks to the residents in her area. She also mentioned she teaches her students about good waste management practices. “When I teach a child, s/he will grow knowing that this is what needs to be done.”

On the final day, Matilda Mbwenywa, a reporter for the Standard newspaper, facilitated a session on networking with journalists. She underscored the need to capture readers’ interest with good storytelling. The youth came up with stories that featured the rampant waste management cases in their area. They then presented each story as she reviewed them. She also emphasized the need to broaden their networks with journalists.

Mactilda Mbwenywa’s session on good storytelling.

At the end of the workshop, the youth affirmed their interest in ensuring a cleaner and healthier community. 

“Through the workshop, I will be able to advocate more on proper waste management within my community,” said Calvin Lucas, one of the youth champions in attendance. “I hope to put the skills I have learned to practice to ensure a better environment for my community.”