Written by Diana Wambui
As we mark World Environment Day today (5th June, 2021), it is crucial to note that it takes collective responsibility to take care of our environment. The Zuri Initiative, a social enterprise, has made environmental sustainability as its priority in all the projects it undertakes.
Protecting our environment should be a major aspect in our lives as it affects our climate, our livelihood and our future. Deforestation leads to soil erosion, flooding and desertification. Dumping of plastics, chemicals and untreated waste in the waters causes water pollution and harms sea creatures and causes waterborne diseases.
AI - Zuri SoCCs Participants receiving tree saplings in Amani Kibera
The Zuri Initiative (Zuri) has been using the Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) concept, developed by the Asia Initiatives, to inspire women to undertake acts of collective responsibility that in turn bring positive change to their communities. Women are encouraged to take positive actions, such as planting trees, keeping their environments clean, and separating their waste into plastics, organic waste, recyclables, etc. and properly disposing of it. For these acts, the women earn SoCCs points that they can then redeem for items such as a vertical kitchen garden set, organic compost, up-cycling and recycling training, and much more.
This year, Zuri has partnered with other like-minded organizations such as Amani Kibera and the Whispers Champions to ensure that women in Kibera are participating in activities that bring awareness in environmental conservation. We are hoping to reach out to more communities in the near future.
Some of the activities that Zuri, its partner organizations and the women it works with are involved in include:
1. Tree Planting Drive
Zuri, with the support of Asia Initiative, has initiated a tree planting project which aims at encouraging greenery and communal spaces in informal settlements such as Kibera. On the 22nd of May we started this project in the area of Lindi and Karanja in Kibera where we planted 350 indigenous trees and fruit saplings. Women and girls who planted the trees are responsible for taking care of them, until the trees are mature. For doing so, they earn SoCC points.
Tree planting activity at the Whispers Grounds in Karanja
2. Non-Organic Waste Collection
Zuri also teaches Zuri women the concept of up-cycling, using non-organic waste such as plastic wrappers, metal containers/cans, plastic bottles and pieces of clothes collected by the Zuri women. This year, the women plan on using recyclable waste to make eco-bricks (made out of stuffing wrappers into plastic bottles) that can be used to make stable structures, laptop bags, support for vertical gardens (out of big plastic bottles). Such collection of waste helps to stop people from dumping it into rivers (thereby polluting and clogging it) or their neighbourhoods.
Non Organic waste submitted by the SoCCs Participants in Amani Kibera
SoCCs participants separating the collected non-organic waste
3. Compost out of organic waste
Apart from the above two initiatives, Zuri also encourages the women it works with to collect organic kitchen waste out of which organic compost is made. The organic waste is regularly collected at a location where a trainer teaches women how to make the compost and look after the compost pits to quicken the process. Once the compost is ready, the women can take the compost to grow chemical-free, organic, plants at home, or Zuri uses it for its vertical gardening initiative (where women can redeem their SoCCs for vertical gardening sacks in which they can grow green vegetables).
The Zuri Initiative, and the women and communities it works with, continue to play a role in making a difference to the environment. It may be a small step to saving our environment, or helping with climate change, but such actions can jointly make a difference. These actions are especially important for changing people’s mind-set.
If you would like to participate in any of our activities, or have ideas about recycling/up-cycling waste, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org