Somali refugees turn plastic waste warriors in one of world’s biggest camps

The Dadaab’s waste recycling project could be a model for the other large campus. It promotes employment of refugees and decreasing of plastic waste at the local level.

From major disaster, conflicts and under-reported stories, we shine a light on the world’s humanitarian hotspots By Nita Bhalla DADAAB, Kenya, June 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Somali refugee Adow Sheikh Aden, 32, was mocked when he started gathering empty plastic water bottles, broken buckets and old jerry cans around one of the world’s largest refugee camps. “Everyone used to laugh and say I am mad because I am collecting rubbish. Here it is not normal to do such things,” said Aden at the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya’s Garissa County, near the Somali border. “But then I explained I am helping to keep our environment clean and our community healthy, and also I am selling the plastic to earn money so that I can manage my life and my family better,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Having fled war in Somalia, Aden is part of a small band of refugees who have taken up the fight against the plastic waste generated in Dadaab – and also earns an income from it. Dadaab’s waste recycling project, set up by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) just over a year ago, has only eight refugee staff. But initial results are promising, and the plan is to grow, aid workers say. In a cement-and-iron building equipped with a plastic shredder and compressor, the refugees have recycled about six tonnes of plastic waste so far, generating some 160,000 Kenyan shillings ($1,580) in revenue. Nelly Saiti, KRCS project officer, said plastic recycling has huge potential as a sustainable business for refugees, and could be a model for other large camps such as Bidi Bidi in Uganda, Kakuma in Kenya and Nyarugusu in Tanzania. “We are collecting just a fraction of the plastic waste that is recyclable in Dadaab, and so a […]

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