Talking Trash’ exposes how Big Plastic has obstructed and undermined proven legislative solutions to the crisis, including in Kenya
KENYA'S PUBLIC SANITATION IS A CRISIS AND TIME BOMB THAT NEEDS TO BE TREATED AS AN EMERGENCY
Clean Up Kenya core work is to advocate for and promote sustainable public sanitation. At the base of this work is the principle of increasing visibility on the problem of waste leading to more sustainable interventions from government duty bodies, state officers, civil society, industry, politicians and citizens.
Our work is informed by Chapter 42 of the Constitution of Kenya which requires every citizen to live in a clean and healthy environment.
Unfortunately the government has failed to guarantee this right to every Kenyan. This is even more prominent among Kenya’s most vulnerable communities such as the urban poor. These communities have no access to basic sanitation provisions such as sewerage services and experience very irregular collection of solid waste. A number of dumpsites and waste transfer stations are also installed in very poor communities. In Nairobi for example, the main dumpsite of Dandora directly affects the health of over 1 million people, including children.
Clean Up Kenya therefore runs campaigns to raise the profile of these issues and to demand action from government, civil society and the private sector, all of whom have a significant role in fostering change.
We have therefore run campaigns such as exposing the despicable operations of consumer brands like Coca-Cola who are not only the face of plastic pollution in Kenya but are also involved in child labour violations and exploitation of poor women through a sham recycling program at Petco Kenya with the help of Kenya Association of Manufacturers.
In 2016, our Founder and Patron, Betterman SImidi, wrote six provocative articles dubbed the ‘NOVEMBER LETTERS’ which highlighted among others the inaction of the media to expose the problem of Kenya’s public sanitation. In another of the letters, Betterman accused Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta of being the leader of the dirtiest country in the world.
These letters were consumed by over 1 million persons leading to lively conversations and have contributed to the many positive actions Kenya continues to make in addressing the problem of waste.
While many of our advocacy campaigns are done digitally, we also extends our reach to communities. Some of the ways we do this are through community cleanups.
We use cleanups as a form of protest. As far as we can tell, we are the first organisation to fuse protests with cleanups. A more visible sighting at our cleanups is to see hundreds of volunteers donned in T-shirts with a simple message – CLEAN UP KENYA! Other volunteers who would not be involved in the cleaning would be seen carrying placards with different public sanitation messages.
It is also common to hear over-the-speaker messages being disseminated during our cleanups putting duty bodies to task to keep Kenya clean as required by the law, by expanding sanitation regulatory frameworks and improving waste infrastructure, demanding actions from corporations particularly those who deploy single-use plastics such as PET bottles, highlighting greenwashing by certain Non-Governmental Organisations who receive funding from consumer brands to pursue partisan interests, and calling on all citizens to be more involved in keeping Kenya clean by the adoption of sustainable behaviours.
Our advocacy work has often put us in collision with many actors including threats on our leaders. Some organisations have refused to work with us citing this approach. We make no apologies for our work. Kenya continues to suffer great public sanitation problems and some of these are caused by entities and individuals whose names are known. We will continue to take the battle to their doorsteps.
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