Obunga clean up & waste pickers 2014-2015

Combating poverty and building democracy through the co-production of participatory waste management services. The case of Kisumu, Kenya

This project aims at explaining the challenges and potential solutions for the co-production of participatory waste management services in informal settlements, based on the case-study of the city of Kisumu, Kenya. In informal settlements, poorly connected to municipal services, waste pickers often collect household solid waste and thus contribute to improve residents' health, eradicate poverty, and reduce cities’ environmental footprint. Yet, they are one of the most disempowered and impoverished segments of society. Many waste management programs have been launched to improve these serious solid waste predicaments, but both in policy and research there is an increasing concern with the ‘knowing-doing’ gap that exists between policy goals and how they are achieved in practice. The research questions are: how are municipal waste management programs translated into practice in informal settlements? What are the difficulties encountered in the co-production of participatory waste management services? How can such difficulties be overcome, via e.g. public-private partnerships? The questions are answered through a) a case-study based on the city of Kisumu b) interactive workshops with waste actors, and c) scholarly seminars to discuss and contextualize the findings. A relational understanding of organizing and space, influenced by Action-Net and Actor-Network Theory is the theoretical starting-point.

Partner organizations

  • Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science & Technology (Academic, Kenya)
  • University of Gothenburg (Academic, Sweden)
  • University of Gothenburg (Publisher, Sweden)
Start date 01/01/2014
End date The project is closed: 30/09/2015
This project aims at explaining the challenges and potential solutions for the co-production of participatory waste management services in informal settlements, based on the case-study of the city of Kisumu, Kenya. In informal settlements, poorly connected to municipal services, waste pickers often collect household solid waste and thus contribute to improve residents' health, eradicate poverty, and reduce cities’ environmental footprint. Yet, they are one of the most disempowered and impoverished segments of society. Many waste management programs have been launched to improve these serious solid waste predicaments, but both in policy and research there is an increasing concern with the ‘knowing-doing’ gap that exists between policy goals and how they are achieved in practice.

The research questions are: how are municipal waste management programs translated into practice in informal settlements? What are the difficulties encountered in the co-production of participatory waste management services? How can such difficulties be overcome, via e.g. public-private partnerships? The questions are answered through a) a case-study based on the city of Kisumu b) interactive workshops with waste actors, and c) scholarly seminars to discuss and contextualize the findings. A relational understanding of organizing and space, influenced by Action-Net and Actor-Network Theory is the theoretical starting-point.
Maria José Zapata Campos, project leader (Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg)
Michael Oloko (Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Kenya)
Patrik Zapata (School of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg)

Funded by

  • Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (Public, Sweden)
Obunga clean up & waste pickers 2014-2015 a film made within the research project.

Published: Thu 31 May 2018.