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Waste business keeping Narok town clean

By Robert Kiplagat | February 1st 2017

For the last 30 years, he has been collecting plastic waste in Narok Town and despite the low pay, he is not about abandon his love for a plastic-free environment.

Instead of engaging in pastoralism like other Maasai morans, Solomon ole Naanyu, 56, chose a job that earned him ridicule from his age mates.

Ole Naanyu started off by collecting tree seeds, which he would later plant in a tree nursery and planting the seedlings around the town way back in 1987. That was before he ventured into plastic collection.

“I started by collecting various species of tree seeds. I put them in a nursery and since we had no polythene tubes, I started collecting milk packets which I then used to plant the trees. While collecting the packets, I realised that such waste can be recycled and I gave it a try,” says Ole Naanyu.

It was then that he began collecting plastic waste and heaped them in one place to keep the town clean.

He later formed a community-based organisation called Tajeu Kenya Project where he is the director.

“I just collected a huge heap and did not know what to do with it. Some people who knew me thought I had gone mad. They later came to appreciate the importance of what I was doing,” he says.

Ole Naanyu says he has employed over 40 youth who move around the estates in the town to collect and sort the plastic waste after which they get paid according to the amount they collect.

For every kilogramme of the plastic waste, a collector is paid Sh5. The youth collect 20 kilogrammes to 30 kilogrammes daily. Ole Naanyu sells the waste to a company in Industrial Area Nairobi at Sh15 per kilogramme. He sells about 1.5 tonnes a month.

Wangai Macho, a mechanic who has partnered with Ole Naanyu, has praised the initiative saying it has created jobs to jobless youth from nearby Majengo Slums.

“Through this project, many youths are now gainfully engaged. Instead of indulging in crime and drugs, they collect plastics and come and sell to us and we pay them,” says Macho.

Narok County National Environment Management Authority director Patrick Lekenit praised the group for the initiative and asked more youth to think of creative ways of recycling waste as the county gears up for zero-tolerance to solid waste.

“With creativity, solid waste can turn out to be a resource for wealth creation. We want more dustbins in urban centres across the county to make the collection easy,” said Lekenit.

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