Nairobi, 20 March 2019-- On the last day of the just concluded 4th UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), 24 young men and women from the Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (MECYG) hosted Precious Plastics, a group of young Kenyans who process plastic waste and turn it into market ready products.

Precious Plastics trained members of MECYG on the different types of plastic and machinery available and the techniques used to create plastic goods. The training was useful to the members who learned the creative thinking required to infiltrate the competitive plastics market. MECYG is currently building on their waste management business and increasing revenue by upscaling the readily available plastic in the community.

After the training, Hana AlHashimi, the Senior Advisor to the Office of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, visited, keen to know what the youth groups were doing to better the planet. The two groups were joined by Kibra Green, a youth waste group from the Kibera slum, and Ardsash Plastics, an engineering company working on providing affordable alternative energy solutions from plastics, to discuss the accomplishments and challenges facing the youth and possibilities for a public private partnership. A selection of videos were played which painted a more vivid picture for those attending.

“It is important that you share what you are doing. It’s very powerful to have these videos and tools so that people in other parts of the world can learn from you,” states Ms. AlHashimi, “I think it’s great you have these partnerships amongst youth groups and the private sector. More people will want to work with you and scale up the impact.”

MECYG then took the guests on a tour of the community and ended at Slum Soccer which is another reclaimed youth led public space and the only football field in the area. The day ended with new connections made and a positive message sent by Maria Fernando Espinosa, President of the United Nations General Assembly:

“My congratulations to these very strong young leaders who are really making a difference today and for a sustainable future. Best regards to all of them and my sincere gratitude for what they are doing.”

Since 1997 Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (MECYG) has been doing door to door garbage collection in order to create income for the young members as well as stem pollution and garbage borne diseases in the community. Providing this essential service has allowed the young leaders to leverage themselves as key players in bringing development and governance to Mathare, an informal settlement of over 500,000 people.

MECYG removed mountains of garbage which were transformed into vibrant youth led spaces. One such space is the Mathare One Stop Youth Centre. The permanent structure built by the member themselves, boasts a social hall, ICT centre, kitchen, gym, garden, washrooms and recently opened an upcycling centre by the UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Sharif and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.