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„Taka taka” – Waste Project

„Taka taka” means waste in the Swahili language. Waste (i.e. things that are not needed any more) is called taka taka in Kenya regardless of its recyclability and composition, and it is usually thrown away (mostly on the street) or burned.


Waste management in Kenya [1] 286_Masai mara s_GF


In Kenya there is no waste treatment system and in rural areas waste management is non existent. In Nairobi and in big cities waste is collected once a week (in garbage bags) plus garbage bins are installed downtown but there is no organized waste management system. As a result there are various size of garbage heaps in suburbs where people dispose of their waste. Waste is simply discarded without any treatment or basic precaution.

In rural areas (where no waste management exists at all) people dig holes in the ground and fill them with waste or simply burn their garbage.


Environmental or waste issues are not part of the curriculum at schools so only the basics reach children – if they go to school at all. As a result people have no idea on the adverse health and environment effect of waste and do not really care. They simply throw away litter wherever they are: on the street, public places, vehicles or through the window of the bus. Roadsides are often soiled with garbage. With the exception of Nairobi and a couple of big cities there are no litter boxes on the street because wherever they tried to install them they were just ignored or got stolen …  🙁


Compared to more developed countries – like Hungary – Kenyans generate less domestic waste due to the given economic situation (low GDP and income), however, shops started to sell excessively packaged products and – as people do not have much money or refrigerators – goods are purchased in small quantities.

As a result there is already a big amount of garbage and with the forecasted economic growth the growing amount of packaging waste (mainly plastic) will make the situation even worse.


The project


Being in Kenya and spending time with the locals we experienced that people simply throw away waste everywhere (luckily this is not that normal in Kowuor though it is a nationwide phenomenon) and both in Kowuor and the countryside many just burn their domestic waste in their backyard.  The project focuses on the latter problem while we also work on waste reduction and education (mainly in the field of waste related exposures and education on possible ways to reduce waste).

The project is realized in cooperation with the local SARE SEEP non-profit organization.


Purpose of the project

  • To minimize the amount of waste in households and
  • to find an environment and health conscious way to dispose of unavoidable waste.
  • Besides, we also would like to prepare an education material to be distributed along with the SARE SEEP effort within the community.


IMG_1397 s_GFSteps taken so far


In June 2015 we organized a workshop with SARE SEEP and discussed the problem of waste (to find out what kind of waste is generated and how it is treated in the given community) as well as the hierarchy of waste and preventive methods.

As a result of the workshop we prepared a list of materiel and waste types that are most frequent in households, describing methods of their treatment and planned treatment in the future.


Local plans

In October, 2015 we organized further meeting(s) in Kowuor where the group told us that they have started to put the knowledge acquired at the workshop into practice and they also plan to implement some type of selective collection of waste among local families. Within the frame of the project we give two – if possible recycled – containers to the families involved, one for paper and one for other waste. Paper can be used to make fire (these households generally use wood or charcoal fueled stoves) and other waste will be regularly collected by the members of the group. We have not decided yet what to do with the waste but the project is looking for an answer.

Nevertheless, selective waste collection has two benefits/objectives: to teach people to collect waste in the appropriate waste container instead of throwing it away as well as that certain material (e.g. paper) can be collect separately to be recycled.


Familiarizing with KCEO practices

In November, 2015 our volunteer spent some time in Kenya and with the help of the Hungarian embassy in Nairobi came across a community project with the objective to offer education and pursue waste management activities in Nairobi’s biggest slum, Kiberia. The group (Kibera Community Empowerment Organization, KCEO) has its own waste separator facility and manufactures recycled products – e.g. plastic lids, milk bags, second hand jeans and sells other waste – lotion containers, PET bottles. The income is distributed in the form of salaries and partly spent on education. We do hope that their experience and relations present opportunities for the waste management project in Kowuor as well.


[1] Waste meaning household garbage.