Recycling 2,000 Tons of Trash in Kibera

by Carolina for Kibera, Inc.

The Youth of Taka ni Pato spent the last quarter training other youth in Kibera about the environmental and economic importance of waste management recycling. These trainings included a community outreach event in the Lindi village of Kibera, at which puppet shows and other drama efforts were used to spread environmental and peace messages. The event attracted hundreds of interested community members, and several individuals and youth groups were recruited to learn about responsible waste collection and disposal.

The outreach efforts also included leadership trainings, based in the idea that a good, strong and democratic leadership is vital for the development and success of the group. The leadership trainings introduced to the participants various types of successful leadership and helped them to analyze and identify the skills and qualities of a good leader.

Also part of the training efforts, the experienced youth taught others about identifying potentially valuable materials from the waste and shared ideas on how to turn that recyclable material into marketable goods.

Finally, Taka ni Pato organized exchange visits, which allowed the new youth recycling groups to get first-hand exposure to successful waste management and marketing.

The community trainings of this quarter culminated with the exhibition of Taka ni Pato work at the village market in early December. The youth, both experienced and newly-trained, were able to interact with business people of related fields and to exchange ideas and strategies. The youth also sold various products of their recycled work.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback. On behalf of the youth, staff, and volunteers of Carolina for Kibera, thank you all for your support! Without your generosity, our work would not be possible.

Friends and colleagues,

Many of you have called or e-mailed asking for information and sending your thoughts and prayers to the Carolina for Kibera (CFK) staff and volunteers who are on the ground in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Thank you for your solidarity and support.

To our knowledge CFK staff and volunteers have suffered only one relatively minor injury as a result of the recent ethnic violence. However, large numbers of volunteers of all ages have had their houses burned and looted. There are no Americans volunteering with CFK at the moment on the ground in Kibera. CFK has kept its office and clinic closed since the election. However, today we began a short-term feeding program out of our youth center.

The violence stems from the December 27 presidential election in Kenya. At first, the election seemed to be peaceful and well orchestrated. It appeared as though the main opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had a significant lead in the early polls. The violence began after President Kibaki was prematurely declared the winner in a small, hasty ceremony at his Presidential estate. It is unclear whether or not Kibaki won the election, but elections monitors (including the Kenyan head of the Kenyan Electoral Commission) have publicly called the election results illegitimate.

Although ethnic divisiveness is no stranger to Kenyan politics, no one anticipated the level of violence that has engulfed Kibera and much of Kenya. The situation on the ground is deteriorating rapidly as each day passes. Stores in Nairobi are looted and people, particularly the poor, are running out of food. Food prices are soaring. Large swaths of Kibera are burned to the ground. Criminal opportunists have joined the fray and there are incidents of wanton violence. Yesterday we received reports that a group of community members repelled a gang of thugs from looting and burning our youth center.

It should be noted, however, that those perpetrating the violence in Kibera number perhaps in the hundreds. Over 700,000 people, half of whom are under the age of 15, reside in the slum. Nevertheless, the level of hatred and divisiveness throughout Kenya today is unprecedented. People are afraid, and those with the means are fleeing from Kibera and other multi-ethnic communities racked by violence. Each day of violence besets the next and further solidifies more ethnic enmity.

The violence must stop now. Efforts to unite Odinga and Kibaki and encourage these leaders to lead and bring a halt to the violence have thus far been futile. None of these leaders have been on the ground in Kibera since the violence began.

In the face of this current tragedy, we must take stock of where we are as an organization. Some commentators suggest that these events signify a hopelessness of development and progress in Kenya. We who have labored on the ground with our brothers and sisters in Kibera see it much differently. We initially started CFK as a small soccer program with a hundred youths from every village and every ethnic group in Kibera. A key goal was to help promote ethnic cooperation and support the education of remarkable young leaders living in some of the most austere conditions imaginable. The violence reminds us that development depends on good governance and security. But our charge is still very clear, and even more important in light of the current bloodletting. CFK staff and volunteers are the forces and voices of positive change that will help create and sustain an equitable and peaceful society.

We will post updates about new developments to our website. If you are interested in learning more, below is a powerful UN article that features CFK and Binti Pamoja member Fatuma Roba. Her two-minute radio interview is particularly powerful. Also included is a link to a front-page article about CFK and Kibera from the Raleigh News and Observer and an insightful op-ed in the Financial Times from long-time CFK supporter and dear friend Michael Holman. Below is a graphic video of the violence in Kibera from CNN.

Please keep our brave leaders and volunteers on the ground in your thoughts and prayers in the days ahead. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. If you are so inclined, we could as always use your financial support.

Tumeshukuru (Gratefully),

Rye Barcott President and Founder

Kimberly Chapman Page Chair, Board of Directors

You can make a donation online through GlobalGiving to support CFK or learn more at:


Thank you for your support of the Taka ni Pato (Trash is Cash) recycling program of Carolina for Kibera (CFK) in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Below is the quarterly report from the CFK staff on the ground in Kibera. I think you'll find that they have accomplished a lot in the 3rd Quarter this year!

I hope you'll keep our friends in Kibera in your thoughts and prayers over the holiday season.



In the quarter there were several activities that took place and these included informal group meetings, clean-up campaigns, marketing, space acquisition, partnership meetings and networking with other environmental organizations. The activities were geared towards value-adding and development of the project.

Community Clean-Up Projects

The clean-up projects were organized with about 600 youth participating from the CFK Youth Sports Program and Taka Ni Pato program in five different communities – Soweto, Lindi, Laini saba, Kianda and Makina. The main objective is to get the youth involved with taking care of there environment, as well as giving back to the community.

Informal Group Meetings

In the quarter the program officer visits each group and had informal meetings with the members; this included discussing the challenges facing the program and achievements in the quarter.

Among others, the project identified these promising results:

a) The establishment of a committed and representative youth network that has on-going working relationships with city council of Nairobi.

b) The development of sanitation/ hygiene promotion manual/training kit for the Taka Ni Pato Project.

c) Conducting a market survey on plastics and other recyclables items and formation of a market committee.

d) The introduction of an initiative to form a consortium/ forum for groups and individuals dealing with waste in Nairobi.

e) Registering an organic company which will enable the groups producing compost manure to have develop a sustainable market with Kenyan farmers.

Group Progress

Bunker Group (paper and plastic recyclable collection, compost making) • New members recruited, especially ladies, into the group. • Negotiated with landlords to collect garbage from different houses • Garbage collection continues • Buying and selling of recyclables from scavengers

Zero Waste Group (trash collection, recyclable collection, compost making, fiber ceiling board making, polythene handbag making, egg shell decoration) • Negotiating with Nakumatt to sell recycled products, e.g. polythene bags and hand made card on progress • Linked to other funding agencies • Increased clients from 72 to 103 for garbage collection. • Networking with Nairobi University to market their products

Kibera Youth Group (garbage collection, compost making, recyclable collection, car washing, carpet cleaning, juice selling) • Number of clients increased from 900 to 1492 • Sold one ton of compost to River garden • The group also ventured in buying of recyclables items from local youth groups and scavengers • Linked to other funding agencies • Negotiation with UNEP of compost on going • Creating job opportunity through waste management.

Marketing/ Networking

The project is working to establish a market with the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) as to market compost manure that the youth have harvested. The project will assist the youth to negotiate prices for the product to increase the revenue. The marketing committee comprising of youth groups involved in TNP explored several market options for plastic products for the recyclables items though price fluctuations due to importation of cheaper pellets (small plastic particles) for easier recycling and cost reduction in most companies.

The project has been networking with the Nairobi City Council to assist the youth in collection of the garbage while doing there rounds and during CFK organized cleanups.

Space Identification

For the last few months, the project has been following up with the Kenya Agricultural Show as to rent a space to construct a recycling center for use by the youth group. The program officer has been working closely with the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) which is the legal government agency responsible for ensuring that environmental laws are followed.


In conclusion, formation of networks at the grassroots level has been positive in addressing environmental issues. There is a lot of potential in the waste and the capacity of the groups to manage the waste has been directly proportional to the benefit they have been deriving from it. Plans are underway to solidify the networks and the forum. This will be done through community awareness and exchange visits. Additionally, we intend to engage policy makers and sector players in ongoing changes in environmental policy, and to link youth groups to negotiate proper and constant markets by networking with each other and researching for more suitable markets.

CFK Executive Director Salim Mohamed participates in clean-up
CFK Executive Director Salim Mohamed participates in clean-up

Two of CFK's programs, Taka ni Pato and the Youth Sports Program teamed up last month for a community clean-up. Youth soccer participants, Taka ni Pato members, summer volunteers from the United States, and even volunteers at the CFK Tabitha Clinic came out, cleaned up solid waste, unclogged ditches and pipelines, and brought recyclable materials back to Taka ni Pato.

Taka ni Pato members unclog a drainage pipe
Taka ni Pato members unclog a drainage pipe

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Organization Information

Carolina for Kibera, Inc.

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Leann Bankoski
Executive Director
Chapel Hill, NC United States

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