Briquettes from Kenyan slum employing jobless youth, aid conservation
Even as joblessness becomes a common adjective to describe the youth in Kenya, employing jobless youth lies at the heart of improving economies everywhere else. Thankfully, there are those who have broken themselves free of the tag of joblessness and through sheer brilliance, determination and a little help they have gone on to make a big difference in their own lives.
The Jitegemee Kenya Pamoja initiative, that makes charcoal briquettes, is a youth initiative from Mukuru Kayaba in South B, Nairobi with a focus of using their raw skills to make money which they use to meet their daily needs and alleviate poverty that is associated with the slum area where they are located.
A briquette is a compressed fuel block whose shape ranges from a cuboid to a rounder more cylindrical shape usually made using materials such as charcoal, sawdust or coal dust.
Most of the raw materials the youth group from Mukuru Kayaba use to make the briquettes are recycled and the end product is meant to provide an alternative to traditional wood charcoal by differentiating from it owing to the fact that briquettes are cheap and also aid in conserving the environment by reducing the need for logging.
“The briquettes are made from charcoal dust, sugarcane refuse, waste paper and other by products of different processes that are considered as garbage and thrown away. We collect them and process them in order to produce this new fuel that is incidentally cheaper than charcoal. 12 pieces of briquettes which cost Ksh.100 as a bundle will last you longer than a similar priced amount of charcoal,” said John Gori, the Vice Chairperson of the group.
Through the ministry of Agriculture and that of Youth Affairs and Sports the young men and women, who are fifty in number, have acquired a briquette making machine which saves them on the costs and the manpower needs.
“Initially, we started out by using our bare hands to make the briquettes but it was a labor intensive process. It used to take more than five men to make 50 briquettes per hour but since we acquired the machine, we are able to work with just two people at a time to produce the same amount of briquettes in an hour,” said Gori.
According to Mercy Wanjiru, the secretary of the group, the project is their way of employing jobless youth in the slum and empowering themselves too in their homes at Mukuru Kayaba slums, Makadara Division.
“Apart from the briquettes project, some of us also do farming of vegetables in sacks and whatever space we manage to get. We also keep rabbits and have an arts group who are basically dancers who grace various occasions like the opening session of this year’s trade fair,” said Ms. Wanjiru, the Secretary, Jitegemee Kenya Pamoja.
Youth Enterprise Development Fund Trade Fair
Meanwhile, this year’s trade fair organized by the ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports came to an end on Saturday with more youth being urged to exploit the ministry’s Youth Enterprise Development Fund.
Some of the interest free loans that the enterprise fund offers towards employing jobless youth include amounts of upto Ksh.400, 000 accessible by a group of not less than ten youth. According to officials at the ministry, 70 percent of the people the fund helps include persons between the age of 18 and 35. To apply, the public is advised to visit their local district Youth Enterprise Development Fund offices available everywhere in the country.
“Kenyans in the age bracket of 15- 30yrs constitute about 75% of Kenya’s population, about 9.1 million people. Females form the biggest percentage of this statistic at 51.7%. These same youth form 60% of the total potential labor force. Yet this group continue to go through a series of dis-empowering occurrences, a phenomenon prompted by the fact that there appears to be little empowerment amongst the youth starting from the family level,” reads a statement from the Youth Ministry.
Is the government doing enough in employing jobless youth?