Trash is Cash

A profit-driven, solid waste management and entrepreneurship training program

Lacking a formal sanitation system, Kibera’s trash and sewage has nowhere to go but collect in the ditches running through Kibera. This leads to many of the health problems caused by unsafe drinking water and lack of access to latrines. But the members of Trash is Cash see this daunting challenge as a resource and educational opportunity.

Trash is Cash (Swahili: Taka ni Pato) is a profit-driven community-managed solid waste management and recycling program that views garbage as an economic resource in Kibera. The 35 youth employees of the waste collection initiative serve 2,352 households in Kibera, providing a regular pick up service for a small fee. Trash is Cash operates two recycling centers, providing jobs for another 20 youth. A pilot initiative, one of the recycling centers is focused on developing a recycled, low cost,  alternative fuel briquette made of paper and sawdust. The other recycling center focuses on plastic collecting, sorting, and pelleting for sale to local industry. The program also works with local women’s groups who collect, sort, and clean plastic bags and fashion them into retail products like purses for sale in local markets. Across all of the small business groups  that Trash is Cash works with in Kibera, computer-based entrepreneurship training is offered regularly and outside consultants and volunteers work with local ventures to support development and growth of locally owned businesses.

Trash is Cash also works in the schools of Kibera to improve hygiene and environmental awareness of school-aged children. Eight hand-washing stations at eight informal schools in Kibera were installed by the Trash is Cash team and teachers and about 2,000 students are being trained about the importance of hand-washing, and proper hand-washing techniques.

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