New State-backed initiative to curb waste menace

Eng Festus Ng’eno, PS Environment and Climate Change has called for a collaborative approach in sustainable waste management in the country

Tens of small businesses are set to benefit from a government-backed programme that seeks to enhance sustainable management of waste. The programme launched last week in Nairobi and dubbed Sustainable Waste Innovation for a Future in Transition (SWIFT) targets small businesses in the country to foster green entrepreneurship and promote a circular economy.

The $5.1 million (Sh767.6 million) initiative is expected to increase investment in nature-based waste management solutions in efforts to safeguard the environment. Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), which implementing the programme, following funding from IKEA foundation said the initiative is a significant step in promoting the circular economy.

The initiative targets five counties namely, Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Uasin Gishu, in the inaugural phase. Under the programme, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will receive tailored business support, including advisory services, technical assistance, mentorship, and financing.

“This programme presents a significant opportunity for Kenya to showcase its leadership in sustainable waste management on the global stage,” said Eng Festus Ngeno, the PS for Environment and Climate Change.

He observed that by pioneering innovative solutions and fostering collaboration between government, private sector, and civil society, Kenya will position itself as a regional hub for sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

“Together, we can demonstrate to the world that a cleaner, greener future is within our reach,” said the PS.

Launch of the Sustainable Waste Innovation for a Future in Transition (SWIFT) programme that happened in Nairobi, Kenya

He noted that the initiative leverages strategic partnerships involving the government and counties to drive policy reforms and regulatory enhancements conducive to sustainable waste management practices.

“The SWIFT programme represents a significant milestone in our collective efforts to address the pressing challenges of waste management in Kenya. With estimates showing that our country generates between 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of waste per day, the need for innovative solutions has never been more urgent,” said the PS.

At least 110 enterprises nationwide will benefit from a comprehensive support to catalyse the development of innovative waste management models aligned with circular economy principles.

“The dual role of the programme in addressing environmental concerns and unlocking economic opportunities through innovation is critical. I have a vision of a future where waste becomes a valuable resource,” said Joseph Murabula, the CEO of KCIC.

The project promises to create job opportunities, economic growth and a clean environment. Projections show it will generate over 6,000 direct and indirect jobs and improve the livelihoods of thousands of households boosting socio-economic advancement.

It is expected that the project would generate some Sh1.5 billion from waste management activities that accelerate the transition to a circular economy and drive inclusive green economic growth.

These activities will be aligned to the country’s climate goals as outlined in the Kenya Nationally Determined Contributions as well as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. In the first year of the initiative, 55 MSMEs, particularly those led by young people and women, will be supported.

The other 55 small businesses will be on boarded onto the programme in the last two years.

Patrick Obonyo, the programme manager at the IKEA Foundation, said collective action will help in addressing waste management challenges and advancing environmental sustainability.

His added that there is need to accelerate Kenya’s transition towards a circular economy.

“It is imperative that we adopt a collaborative approach that brings together government, private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders. Only through concerted action can we overcome the complex challenges facing our waste management sector and create a future that is clean, healthy, and sustainable for all,’’ said Ngeno.

Insights from SWIFT will be used to scale-up the initiative and improve the approach to supporting MSMEs in waste management. Applications for the SWIFT programme remain open to eligible enterprises, said Murabula, as he asked waste management entrepreneurs to take up the opportunity and contribute to the country’s goal of attaining sustainable waste management.

According to the National Environmental Management Authority, improper management of waste leads to degradation of the environment and fans climate change.

This is because waste is one of the contributors of greenhouse gases, which lead to global warming and thus climate change.

‘’It is for this reason that as a country, we should develop sustainable waste management technologies and initiatives to curb this growing global challenge,’’ the agency notes its solid waste management strategy.

The various wastes generated in Kenya can be categorised as domestic, municipal, industrial, hazardous and e-waste.

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