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We should join hands to tackle garbage eyesore in Nairobi

OPINION
By Mercy Waithaka | May 31st 2021
A boda boda man riding through piles of uncollected garbage in Eastleigh, Nairobi on Monday, May 24, 2021. [Samson Wire. Standard].

The mountains of garbage in some city estates should worry us all.

They are a ticking time bomb and should be addressed once and for all. In the list of things that the County Government of Nairobi should work on getting right, environmental matters should top that list.

The other day, I visited a friend, a social worker in one of Nairobi’s urban informal settlements. The area is fairly ‘developed’ compared to other informal settlements. Everything appeared to be okay from housing, street lighting, businesses, schools, and hospitals. But there was a problem.

As we walked from one street to another, I noticed that some roads and footpaths were full of garbage. One road was so full of garbage that not even a motorbike could pass through. I also noted that there was a schools nearby, but the students had to squeeze their way through the tiny footpath to access it.

As we walked further, we came to one of the community’s sports ground that was also covered by by same mess. Right at the entrance of that sports ground, was a mountain of garbage. Adjacent to the sports ground was a health facility with the road leading to it also covered in garbage.

Most urban informal settlements are faced with this challenge. The journey towards salvaging our environment should be a collective effort. The Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative is a good effort, but is it really enough to tackle littering and garbage in our estate?

It is wrong to expose our children to diseases as a result of polluted environment. It is also atrocious that garbage should pile up to the level of barricading roads and footpaths.

So what can we do and which areas can we strengthen? There should be more awareness campaigns on why we should keep our environment clean. Such campaign should not be left to the government alone. The private sector has a role to play too.

It is not enough to tell people what to do. They should be showed how to do it. For instance, in as far as plastic waste is concerned, telling people to recycle and not showing them how to do it may not bear much fruit.

The use of influencers to spearhead change can also have some level of impact in tackling this challenge. Sometimes I think that the late Wangari Mathaai would turn in her grave if she sees how we have neglected the environment. It is not just about planting trees, it is caring for Mother Nature as a whole.

There are hundreds if not thousands of influencers, only the hearts of very few of them beat for our environment. We should have more environment champions and activists who should not rest until some of these issues are tackled. Greta Thunberg is a perfect example of what one voice can do to influence change.

Environmental discipline requires that we all take little steps in ensuring we safeguard the environment for the sake of generations to come.

Perhaps if we had tougher laws against littering more so within our communities, people may shun pollution.

Ms Waithaka is a blogger www.mercymecreations.com

 

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