With the country right in the throes of a cholera outbreak, keeping our neighbourhoods clean has never been more important. This is where Antony Okoth and Julie Buku come in. Okoth gives a glimpse into what they do
Tell us about yourselves and what you stand for
We are young and proactive Kenyans who want to play a role in making our country great. Buku and I run the ‘Hood Safi’ programme geared towards cleaning up our neighbourhoods.
She is 27 and I am 30. We are both alumni of United States International University. Buku studied Clinical Psychology whereas I pursued Journalism and Communication. We are basically agents for change and we are out to create impact through what we do for our community.
An insight into Hood Safi and why it was began?
The planning phase took almost four years. We had an idea to change the habit of littering. Incidentally, both of us had a passion for matters to do with the environment and largely so because of inspiration by the late Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.
Our plan was to go out and change mindsets through talks. This February, after roping in key policy makers like the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and United Nations Environmental Programme, we began our journey.
Hood Safi was basically an anchor project targeting our neighbourhoods as that is the immediate source of dirt. It is our plan to help find solutions to the growing menace of littering.
What is the impact of the programme?
We have gotten a lot of buy-in from county governments to help articulate the agenda at the grassroots. Importantly though, we have youth getting directly involved and this gives us hope.
Who are your main target audience? For the programme to be sustainable, we have to deal with the youth primarily. Therefore 90 per cent of our team members are young. We visit schools and talk to them about keeping their environment clean.
Which organisations are you partnering with?
Institutions like Kenya Association of Manufacturers and Kenya Alliance of Residents Association have come on board as partners. KAM, for instance, is partnering with us to secure dustbins in a number of estates in Nairobi county.
They are helping to address the apathy towards using designated waste disposal areas. The Ministry of Environment has been giving us a hand in raising awareness. The National Environmental Management Association offers manpower and expertise for most of our programmes.
Others offer funding to help run our operations. A key member of our team; Rajesh Kent, the Director of Alternative Energy Solutions, is teaching the youth about waste management and creating wealth through waste.
What is your coverage so far?
Currently, we are only active in Nairobi and Kiambu counties, largely because of financial constraints. We want to ensure that we work with all stakeholders regardless at this level to deliver the message home.
At the moment, we are encouraging counties, especially Nairobi to streamline their systems.In future though, we have a plan to reach other counties through the Association of First Women in the Counties to assist in articulating our agenda.