Scavenging for livelihoods: a case study of scavenging in Nairobi, Kenya
The rate of solid waste generation in Nairobi, Kenya is far greater than the capacity of formal institutions in wastes collection and disposal. These Institutions often ignores or harasses scavengers, who recover solid wastes for their livelihoods. Nevertheless, these draconian measures and government's recognition of scavenging activities, in terms of who they are, why they scavenge, where they scavenge and problems they experience has led to incomplete policies that deal with the symptoms of historical problems of environmental degradation and insecure livelihoods in urban areas. The focus of this study is to document scavengers' livelihoods in terms of their contribution to the livelihood portfolio. A cross sectional survey and in-depth interview of 98 respondents and 30 key respondents was conducted on scavengers' socio-economic characteristics, livelihoods and policy concerns in Nairobi, Kenya. Livelihood theoretical framework was adopted in assessing and documenting access and claims to a living among the scavengers. The major research findings and recommendations are that scavengers' socio economic characteristics are directly related to their day to day activities of scavenging. Scavenging epitomizes the informal sector. Its members are young, unskilled, unemployed, reside in informal settlements and are a consequence of breakdown in social control structures and socio-economic system, but earn more than a dollar or two a day. This study suggests therefore, that - there is need for an integrated policy and structural .initiative thatrecognizes all stakeholders in waste collection for reuse and recycling.
University of Nairobi, Kenya