Once again, students from Penn State spent the better part of May at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre working on projects identified by staff at the CYEC. Penn State and the CYEC have been collaborating for more than 10 years to provide PSU students with the opportunity to gain practical experience working and learning about community development while supporting the initiatives of the Centre. This year the students worked on two projects – one to develop a prototype landfill and another to facilitate an assessment of food security in neighborhoods where the Centre works.
Nyeri, like most communities in Kenya, lacks a safe way to handle its waste. Two youth volunteers at the Centre, Bonny and Kiki, have been working to develop and commercialize ‘waste to value’ initiatives including making charcoal briquettes from waste and recycling other materials. When the local municipality decided to build a new landfill, Bonny and Kiki wanted to ensure it would be safe, taking into consideration air and water quality in both the design and management of the site. The Penn State students researched the design of landfills in resource-poor environments and worked with them to design and build a prototype landfill at the current dumpsite. Their work caught the attention of national media – you can see them on the news at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=hgozZ4TQRSw
Food insecurity is another challenge in the area, and it potentially contributes to children and youth ending up on the streets. However, there is no real understanding of the incidence of or risk factors for food insecurity. The Centre asked the students to develop a survey instrument and methodology to help them identify how prevalent (and deep) food insecurity is and to identify who is at greatest risk of lacking adequate food. The students developed an instrument that includes the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) as well as general information on household demographics and dietary diversity. The FIES is used globally and identifies mild, moderate or severe levels of food insecurity. Our students worked with staff at the Centre to ensure the survey was culturally appropriate and to train the enumerators. They completed the survey and are entering the data for analysis now.
The students were able to learn and share with the staff and youth at the Centre. We thank them for making us welcome and letting us work alongside them!
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