In rural northern Kenya, Samburu women regularly buy staples such as sugar, tea and maize from local shops. These items always come packaged in plastic or thin nylon bags. The bags, along with other waste items, are often burned or discarded in the bush or around the manyattas, where livestock and wildlife may ingest them.
There are no waste disposal or recycling services here. In the past, the ladies said they would wait for the rains and then rush down to the river to let the surging water carry away their waste.
To face this environmental threat, Ewaso Lions has organised several clean up campaigns in the local villages to raise awareness about importance of a keeping the environment clean and healthy. At the same time, we know there is a local demand from the community for more recycling opportunities, based on recent surveys.
We are now exploring long-term solutions to this waste problem and want to enhance the business skills and training for our Mama Simba women. Thus, we have reached out to organisations with expertise in waste management and setting up community-based recycling enterprises. One such group, Zingira Community Crafts, based in Kisumu, Western Kenya and founded by Evance Odhiambo, tackles such development issues facing the environment and development while also providing employment to talented artisans. The project trains artisans to create products made from recycled or sustainable materials.
Earlier this month, our Mama Simba Coordinators, Munteli and Mparasaroi, together with our Resident Wildlife Artist, Samson, attended a two-day product development workshop organized by the Zingira team in Dunga, Kisumu. The workshop was primarily designed to enhance the craft-making skills of Dunga community members (mainly women and youth), as well as providing ecotourism advisory – and Evance kindly extended the invitation to the Ewaso Lions team.
The ladies learned two techniques for making intricate baskets and bags. One technique involved using water hyacinth (an invasive species from South America introduced into Lake Victoria) to create beautiful woven baskets, which the ladies proudly showed off upon their return to Samburu.
The Mama Simba ladies are now excited to experiment with applying this technique to other materials, such as plastic bags, which are more readily available in Samburu. They have already started collecting bags around their villages – they don’t want to forget what they have learnt.
Meanwhile, Samson learned how to create interesting artworks and candlesticks using tins and other scrap metals. As our Resident Wildlife Artist, we hope Samson can apply these new skills in his own work, as well as supporting any creative enterprises that form part of the Mama Simba programme.
The team was particularly impressed by the business acumen of the Zingira team and were excited to learn how they might apply this to their own beadwork enterprise and, hopefully, in future their own recycling enterprise. Munteli certainly has big plans to establish a centre where she can train other members of her community one day.
We are immensely grateful to Evance and his team at Zingira Nyanza Community Crafts for inviting Samson and the ladies to attend the workshop. We are also excited for the next phase of our partnership with Zingira. Next month, their team will be visiting Samburu to conduct a feasibility study for a Mama Simba recycling enterprise.