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Waste Recycling Project

Usalama Bridge Youth Reform is a community-based, youth organization in Kibera. The organization’s activities and youth membership reach Lindi and Laini Saba villages. This area and its youth were formally associated with crime and insecurity. As the group developed in 2012 as part of the Kibera Public Space Project 04, the members assumed the name Usalama (meaning ‘safety’ in Swahili) to recognize the peace and security that they hoped to provide to the residents and families living in the two villages. By creating a youth-led group and by engaging youth Usalama’s target is to substantially change their neighborhood.

In much of Kibera, youth address the lack of formal waste collection by creating informal waste collection and disposal businesses, however the end-product is often environmental pollution, as trash is dumped into the rivers and streams. Usalama have also been involved in waste collection and were interested in finding alternatives to the current system.

From May to July 2015, Usalama Youth Group appointed a team of 3 members to research and evaluate a more sustainable youth-driven solid waste management efforts by youth groups across Kibera and Nairobi in a project supported by the Jeffrey Cook Foundation. Lindi-Laini Saba is home to several thousand families, who do not have access to suitable waste management and largely dump their garbage in the rivers and streams of the village. From the research, the members realized the opportunity and profitability in recycling and adding value to the inefficient waste management system in Kibera.

Currently, Usalama Youth Group has focused their effort towards the start up of improved garbage collection and shredding of plastics – a standalone social enterprise that creates a higher-value and in-demand product that has the potential to create additional income. Usalama are in the process of applying for a business loan from KDI to buy a shredding machine and develop a recycling business. The shredder machine identified by Usalama would be the first of its kind in Kibera and will be beneficial to all youth groups that do waste management and plastics collection.