Finding Refuge from Rubbish: A Case Study in Mombasa, Kenya

By Jennifer Willett.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In Mombasa, Kenya, the failure of local authorities to manage a functioning garbage system results in the dumping of the city’s trash into the poorest communities. However, this also presents opportunities for marginalized people to eke out a livelihood. This research study focuses on the impact of environmental racism in Mombasa as well as the resiliency of the affected communities. To understand the lived experiences of those affected, individual interviews and focus groups were held in Kiswahili and English, as determined by participant comfort, along with several hours of ethnographic participant-observations. The findings include the impact of excessive trash on their communities, community-proposed solutions to the garbage problem, and their individual stories of hardship. This project supports arguments that sustainability can only be achieved in conjunction with poverty alleviation.

Keywords: Poverty, Solid Waste Management, Kenya, Environmental Justice

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.107-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 202.563KB).

Jennifer Willett

Doctoral Student, Social Work, University of Connecticut, West Hartford, USA

Jennifer Willett is currently attending the University of Connecticut School of Social Work Ph.D. program. Prior to returning to school, she organized people with low income who were living with AIDS and ran a housing program for people who were homeless and mentally ill. For the summer of 2011, she worked with an organization in Mombasa, Kenya to develop advocacy and organizing campaigns regarding the intersection of environmental problems and poverty, her research interest area. She hopes to encourage social work to become a strong player in the environmental movement.