“What would you think if your son or your friend told you that the place that you live is a dump? I know you would feel very bad and you would start asking yourself many things that you did not want to come to your mind. Please clean our environment please,” writes Elvis in his blog.
Joseph’s picture of the living conditions in an informal settlement.
Environmental degradation is one of the most popular blog and photograph topics amongst my students. However, they aren’t writing about global warming, ice caps melting or El Nino. They are writing about smaller scale environmental problems that affect their lives in much bigger ways.
As Dominic writes, “Many people live in places that are unfit for human habitation. The sources of rivers passing through Nairobi are very clean but when they approach the city, they become dirty because a lot trash is dumped into them. In addition, the drainage system is channeled towards the rivers, adding to the dirtiness of the water.”
Since all of my students have experience living on the streets or in the informal settlements, they know quite a bit about the need for a clean environment. They have seen babies die of cholera due to dirty water, they have seen older children playing in and around sewage and have lived next to makeshift dumpsites that serve as breeding grounds for malaria and other diseases. If you are rich enough, you can afford to live in the clean suburbs with sanitation systems, but for the poor, Nairobi is very dirty city.
A picture by Elvis of a child playing around dirty water.
Joseph pleads for the government to do something about the dirty environment in Nairobi and urges common people to do their part as well. The government can build and maintain more public toilets, construct more waste bins and improve trash collection services so people are not forced to dump their trash on the sidewalk and burn it once the pile gets too big. Common people can hold on to their trash until they come across a waste bin, pledge to use only designated areas as toilets and create neighborhood clean-up groups.
The students have shown that the need for a clean environment is there and they are fighting for something to be done about it. So let’s fight with them. Together, Nairobi, and other cities around the world, can be clean for everyone, including the poor.
Posted By Kristina Rosinsky
Posted Aug 22nd, 2008