IGP Stories

Prosperity Co-creation - Translating Research into Action in Kenya


Eve Njau

22 September 2023

The Prosperity Framework of the Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP), which advocates for engaging the stakeholders within the target ecosystem, helps in shaping a well-informed and tailored intervention plan that can tremendously enhance equitable prosperity for all.

IGP PhD student Alina Marm based her research on this key principle, with stakeholder participatory workshops playing a crucial role as part of her research in modelling a network of value chain groups operating within the informal plastic recycling ecosystem (IPRE).

It has been exactly one year since the start of the research activities. The latest workshop, which engaged 28 attendees who came in from various business niches in both the formal and informal plastic recycling sector, was meant to be a climax of findings gathered so far. Activities including site visits to a youth community-based organisation, a waste transfer centre, government administration and a two-day co-creation workshop that ended with a cocktail party, were just but a part of Alina’s third visit to Kenya as part of her research project. This visit’s end goal was to co-create a model that can be implemented as a part of the solution to the informal waste circular economy.

Our research team comprising of Prof. Jacqueline McGlade as the PhD supervisor, IGP PhD student Alina, myself and Eric Guantai, who helped in field coordination activities, held an inception meeting on Tuesday 15th August to go through the workshop and field activities that evolved around co-creating a circular and prosperous (plastic) waste management model. We also carried out an evaluation of the previous workshop’s outputs to understand the people’s working demographics, map possible site visit locations, moderation techniques and formulate a workplan.

The second day started with a visit to Starehe’s Assistant County Commissioner, Mr. Micheal Were, to give an update on how the prosperity model actions have impacted the community’s narrative on the contributions of recycling. The common response from the stakeholders was the acknowledgement that there are opportunities for change that can help them to attain shared prosperity, but an enabled environment is needed to achieve this. In addition to this, as a community focal point, Mr. Ware provided additional crucial links to some of the participants such as one of Mukuru’s pioneer community-based organization (CBO), LATEWA Arts CBO that leads on participation in waste management awareness and sensitization at the grassroots.

On the third day, we kicked off the workshop activities, starting with an introductory summary of the findings of the previous workshop. Aptly named TABO MABO (Taka Bora, Maisha Bora- Better Waste for Better Life), the take-away messages from the activities analysis revealed that most of the challenges faced are external, and arise from a lack of an enabling environment, particularly high license fees, rife corruption, unfavorable price determination by the buyers and a lack of policy implementation, which are unfavorable to small businesses.

Despite this outlook, an interesting outcome was that the low opinion of the informal waste pickers’ profession by locals, didn’t dissuade those in the ecosystem to continue in the trade as it provides a stable income and control over working hours.

This understanding directed the first activity which was a 10-step guide model through group discussions, guided by a globally applied waste management and recycling tools approach.

The group participants also designed an action model, that was constructed along the five domains of prosperity, with each layer comprising a set of objectives, applicable tools, required internal capabilities and influencers.

The participants then developed a workplan with implementation activities, associated work packages and way forward for a 100-day plan.

It was established that there was a general preference for leveraging on existing partnerships within the ecosystem in comparison to establishing new ones. As the different businesses within the value chain are considered experts within the waste recycling value chain, niches collaborating was seen as the key approach of increasing revenue and material quality by eliminating the middlemen.

Once again, the prosperity model has proven to be a channel of attaining sustainable and scalable change that delivers wins-wins for involved parties. In the case of players within the IPRE, these are new profit prospects for entrepreneurs, decent jobs for waste workers and access to waste collection for underserved communities.

Eve Njau is a Researcher at IGP’s PROCOL Africa and a member of the newly established Hub for Natural Capital at Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, Kenya. A natural capita specialist with a focus in ecosystem services valuation and carbon projects development, she’s passionate about seeing communities earn sustainable livelihoods through nature-based solutions and biodiversity conservation.

#Circularity #LocalAction #CommunityAction #Prosperity #CBD #Co-creation #PlasticRecycling #WasteRecycling

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