A young Kenyan man, Joshwa Tambo (27), engaged an impressive 820,000 people in a Let’s Do It! clean-up day in Kenya that took place on last week and focused on slums.
Massive civil clean-up initiatives that started in Estonia, have now spread to over 100 countries in just few years and Kenyan event was latest action in the campaign.
Let’s Do It! Kenya, led by Tambo, focused on three cities and mainly on unofficial settlements in Nairobi and Kisumu. Another clean-up will take place in Mombasa this weekend. Tambo has a special bond with such settlements, being born and raised in Nairobi’s biggest slum Kibera. His mother invested everything she earned in providing her seven children a good education. This was a ticket out for Tambo, however – he decided to return to Kibera to raise his daughter and make a difference for the local communities.
Kibera is heavily polluted by human refuse, garbage, soot, dust, and other wastes. The slum is contaminated with human and animal faeces due to the open sewage system and the frequent use of “flying toilets”. The lack of sanitation combined with poor nutrition among residents’ accounts for many illnesses and diseases.
“My passion is to create environmental safety and guard the beauty of the Earth. My knowledge about those issues challenged me to fight against the trash problem. I get motivated by how trash recycling projects have solved so many social problems, providing education and a better life,” said Tambo who is also one of the founders of Kibera Community Empowerment Organization, which runs upcycling projects and sponsors the education of talented children in the slums.
According to Tambo, 820,000 volunteers was the predicted number. He and his team had intensively worked with communities, local groups and authorities for a while, building trust and assuring that he is not interested in pointing fingers or making politics. The collected waste is still to be calculated but the initiative tries to recycle as much as possible, the rest will be sent to controlled legal landfills.
Despite the massive participation, Tambo is still worried that Kenya doesn’t see the full potential of volunteering.
The instability in the country makes it difficult to organize such massive clean-ups, which require good cooperation, exact planning and execution. Tambo said that functional frameworks that would support environmental conservation and similar events are still missing in Kenya, but he is committed to put effort in changing this through developing civic society, volunteering and entrepreneurship.
The international network of Let's Do It! aims to solve the illegal dumping problem on a local and global level both short and long term – by engaging a large part of the society in the clean-up activity on an action day, raising the issues related to illegal dumping and engaging both experts, political and local leaders to find more sustainable systemic solutions. The movement began in Estonia in 2008 when 50,000 people came together and cleaned up their entire country in five hours, removing 10,000 tons of waste and saving the government 3 years of work and 22 million Euros.
Today, Let’s Do It! is a global network of 112 countries, having engaged over 14.3 million participants.
Editor: S. Tambur