In 2017, youth group, Komb Greens solutions based in Korogocho took it upon themselves to rehabilitate their section of the Nairobi River in Embakasi North Sub-county.
Fredrick Okinda, Christopher Waithaka and Mzee Muchina mobilized 24 young people to form the group and started removing the solid waste from the River to change the environment and keep themselves from engaging in crime.
"We have had many youth being killed here by police and we were tired. Girls were getting unwanted pregnancies and catching diseases from engaging in prostitution. So we had to find a way to sustain ourselves," Fredrick narrated.
Detailing the progress made by the youth, Mazingira Yetu magazine founder Sam Dindi explained that a slum upgrading program initiated in 2017 and which entailed the construction of a new bridge connecting Korogocho and Dandora saw young people from Korogocho employed in its construction as labourers and security officers.
"The bridge was completed by December 2017 rendering all the young people involved in its construction jobless.
"It’s at this juncture that the young people from Korogocho decided to remove the dumpsite to create a space they could rest without being harassed by police or being looked suspiciously by the public," he told this writer on the phone.
Within a year they were able to clear the waste and create the only green space along Nairobi River and in October 2018 they the park was named "The people’s park" and opened to the public.
Starting with 24 youth, the group has grown to 70 members where they have been able to embark on various initiatives like building gabions along the river bank, training the local youth on riparian ecosystem restoration and they have even formed a savings and credit chamaa.
The leader of the group, Fredrick Okinda revealed that their project caught the eye of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who integrated them to his program seeking to restore the River to its previous glory.
"Sonko has been supportive to our group because after we featured on NTV, we wrote a letter to the Governor about our activities and he was inspired by it and took 70 of us to join his Nairobi River restoration program," the leader of Komb Greens Fredrick Okinda told this writer on the phone.
The governor, in post on Wednesday acknowledged the work of the youth stating, "The new look of Nairobi river riparian land in Korogocho area, Embakasi North Sub-County after we rehabilitated the place to create a recreational park for locals and visitors."
A representative from Sonko's office told Kenyans.co.ke, that they had been engaging the youth for long period to try and get them out of committing crimes.
"We are looking to replicate what the youth have been able to do here to other parts of the river in the restoration program," he explained.
On his part, Dindi advised the county government to address the root cause of pollution of the river.
"They should address the root causes of the sources of pollution of the river. People in Korogocho don't have toilets, so even after cleaning, all the fecal matter is poured in the river. Also when it rains, all the waste upstream makes its way to the river and that is not sustainable," he conveyed.
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