A few weeks back, I got to visit Victory Integrated Primary School in Banda community that ECOaction, a non-profit organization is working with. Over the last 20 years, the capital city of Uganda, Kampala, has grown at an alarming rate and disposal of 730,000 tons of waste produced daily of which only an estimate 1% is presently recycled is one of the major challenges the rapidly growing city center faces. ECOaction have been working in Banda with waste collectors to create employment opportunities for women and the youth through recycling waste.
The community of 106 individuals (20 single mothers, 79 children, 7 men) have been joined by some twenty youth from the wider community to create a centre from recycled materials, engage in urban garden, briquette making from biodegradable waste, composting and to explore more income generating activities. The community has also commenced on a project with Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mukono to create greenhouses from recycled plastic bottles to improve on urban gardening and nutrition.
There are many innovative ideas on how to use waste, however these require local adaptation. ECOaction assists with the sorting trash for resale in existing markets to increase direct cash income, as well as: repurposing trash within communities to increase quality of life and livelihood.
Their projects have spanned: repurposing plastic bottles to create greenhouses, shower and briquette making enclosures, water harvesting, community art and structures; sorting organic waste to create compost; and creation of a community school and playground.
ECOaction plans to buy land, where training and innovations in waste can be carried out to support stakeholders to the upscale their business projects to create livelihoods for the waste collectors and their families, giving them hope to make a sustainable living out of poverty. Despite their meager earnings, the community of 106 individuals was evicted off the land where they were living and had set a community center, on short notice by the owners in 2016. They are now dispersed and their means of livelihood is now threatened.
Until ECOaction can provide a new place for them to live, their situation will be extremely difficult and has become almost impossible for them to continue collecting waste for their livelihood, given that they no longer occupy a space for their activities. The problem is slowly leading to disintegration of waste collectors as well as poor nutrition and health problems among the vulnerable community members.
It has also become difficult for ECOaction to support the community hence their plan to establish an Innovations Village that would not only settle the evicted waste collectors’ community, but also establish an innovations village that will continue providing support in value addition of the collected waste.
I highly recommend you making this a part of your plans, if you are looking to visit Banda area soon! If you would like to visit ECOaction or are interested in finding out more about their progress, you can do so hereThis weekend ( 29th and 30th August 2017) we are having a session to create the Victory Integrated Primary School Library in Banda. You are welcome to join and help out!