Usafi Mtaani Project Update

The Usafi Mtaani Project, created by the Lamu Arts and Theatre Alliance (LATA), is improving waste management in Lamu Island. The project was designed in 2 parts. 

In the first part, the team researched waste management in Lamu to understand the current state of play. This included understanding quantities and types of waste materials generated. Then through theatre, the project engaged with communities, village elders and chiefs to incorporate byelaws and raise community awareness.   

In part two, the project has identified 500 households in the old town to begin door to door waste collection, sorting, and onward recycling.  

We’re checking in towards the end of their project now they have collections underway. 

Overview of Activities 

Earlier this year, the group used forum theatre to raise awareness about waste management and engage with the 5 communities – Wiyoni, Kanu, Kinooni, Bajuri, and Kijitoni – they had identified. The play featured three intervention points that invited audience participation to explore solutions to the challenges identified. The interactive forum theatre performances provided a platform for residents to openly discuss their concerns regarding the current waste management practices and propose potential solutions. Notably, a recurring suggestion was the proper implementation of a dedicated waste collection service, highlighting the community’s strong desire for improvement. 

This approach, alongside strong support from local leaders including the Area Chief and Nyumba Kumi elders created a welcoming environment for the project.   

After the theatre performances, one workshop was held in each area. During these workshops active participants from the theatre performances, area chief’s, elders and religious leaders were trained on how to create relevant policies for creating a communal waste management system. A key outcome from these workshops was the creation of committees that would be responsible for managing the waste collections within their areas independently of LATA.  

At the beginning of June, collections began in 3 of the areas and then a month later, the other 2 areas began. This means that a total of 527 houses in Lamu are experiencing biweekly door to door waste collections for the first time! 

The collections have gone well so far – in fact more areas are asking to be a part of the project – and the innovative approach to giving ownership and management of the collections to the community ensures for sustainability and a strong sense of community pride. 

The group will be selling their plastic waste to the Flipflopi Project – we are awaiting the first collection, and the organic waste they collect is being used to feed the hard-working donkeys that carry the waste. 

The group intends to spend the next few months perfecting collections in these areas before they expand their work to other areas in the town. However, the desire to take part and pay for a service like this highlights the need for waste management to be tackled at a larger scale. To do this will need cooperation and transparency among organisations in Lamu.