How residents of one of Nairobi′s poorest districts are cleaning up a major local river | Global Ideas | DW | 01.10.2019
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How residents of one of Nairobi's poorest districts are cleaning up a major local river

The Nairobi River is highly polluted. But residents in one of the Kenyan capital's largest slums are cleaning it up and putting pressure on the government to set up working sewage and waste collection systems.

Watch video 06:42

Living Planet: Threats to Kenya's wetlands

Project goal: Cleaning the Nairobi River of waste and toxic material. Establishing functioning sewage and waste collection systems

Project partners: Citizens' initiatives like Komb Green Solutions and Friends of Ondiri Wetland Kenya 

The Nairobi River is polluted with human and industrial waste — some of it highly toxic. But the residents of nearby Korogocho, an unregulated neighborhood in Kenya's capital, say that wasn't always so. It used to be clean enough for swimmers.

To restore the river to its former glory, the government needs to set up a functioning waste collection and sewage system. In the meantime, local student and environmentalist, Fredrick Okinda, decided he wanted to do something about the trash piling up in the Nairobi. He set up Komb Green Solutions, an initiative that works with around 70 Korogocho residents to clear waste from the river. Nairobi County's local government provides some financial assistance to the activists — mainly former gang members and sex workers. Otherwise, they're largely on their own.

Further upstream, pollution problems are also plaguing the source of the Nairobi River. Agricultural chemicals are seeping into the Ondiri swamp. Locals have taken up the green mantle here too. They're trying to clean up the river by, for instance, planting bamboo, which is supposed to prevent heavy metals from entering the water.

A film by Thomas Hasel

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