Delivering low carbon technology to the next generation
The County of Kisumu in the Lake Victoria region of Kenya is home to the third largest city in the country. In 2019, Kisumu was one of 35 African cities reporting that city-wide sustainability goals had been integrated into the local government’s master-planning. Kisumu has mainstreamed climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts into the County Integrated Development Plan II for 2018- 2022 and in its formulation of Kisumu County Climate Change Policy and Bill.
The County’s targets address core issues including waste management, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, water security, energy efficiency, and climate change adaptation. The actions Kisumu is taking to meet these targets and build resilience range from seasonal participatory scenario planning within sub-county groups to develop weather advisories, to establishing a biotechnology center where community groups are trained in seed collection, multiplication, and propagation of germplasms. In all these actions, citizen participation and engagement are essential.
Before and after pictures of Kachok dumpsite in Kisumu
Kisumu is taking action across the board to tackle climate change, yet like many African cities, Kisumu has faced serious waste management challenges over the past decades. These are often increased by poor public awareness of recycling and waste disposal, a lack of proper waste management infrastructure, and inadequate solid waste management services in informal settlements. In response, the County, private actors, and community leaders are now working together to tackle this issue and their efforts have now led to the city receiving an award for becoming the cleanest city in Kenya from the Town and County Planners Association of Kenya in 2019.
Building on previous environmental legislation, the local government has developed the Kisumu Integrated Sustainable Solid Waste Management Project (KISWAMP) and is in the final stages of formulation of the Kisumu Solid Waste Management Policy and Bill. The strategy includes improving public awareness of solid waste management, separating waste at source, and recycling waste. Through KISWAMP, Kisumu has promoted public-private partnerships and supported community-based groups and micro-enterprises to provide efficient waste management services through capacity building and financing.
Local authorities are also starting to provide waste stations in each of Kisumu’s seven sub counties to provide proper recycling and waste facilities to its people, enabling them to translate county -level action to an individual level. Waste bins have been installed in the city to help in management and segregation of waste. The introduction of monthly public clean ups across the city and smaller surrounding communities has contributed to the reduction of waste streams to the landfill. Furthermore, the local government is in the final stages of relieving waste from the Kachok dumpsite located within the city and turning the dumpsite into a recreation park.
Establishment of the biotechnology centre
Looking to the future, Kisumu is also planning to develop a waste to energy program to make the most effective use of available resources. A pilot is already in place - the water hyacinth biogas project which provides local fish traders with clean gas at Dunga beach. The project allows the local community to convert water hyacinths – which have been removed from local water ways in order to increase accessibility – into biogas to use for cooking and smoking fish. This has the dual benefit of reducing levels of organic waste in the surrounding areas and limiting community reliance on firewood as a primary energy source.
Despite the challenges posed by the legacy of poor waste management systems, Kisumu is making strides to transform its waste management in order to build a healthy, thriving place to live and workommu. By engaging directly with its citizens, Kisumu is cutting waste at its source and building community resilience to climate change. Implementing innovative approaches to convert waste to energy is also contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reductions and increased resource efficiency, both of which are essential to Kisumu's overall resilience building efforts.