Francis Mutuku

Trash to Treasure: Collecting trash for profit to reduce vector breeding sites in Kwale County, Kenya

Principal investigator

Francis Mutuku

Department of Environment and Health Sciences, Technical University of Mombasa, Tudor Area, Tom Mboya Street, P.O. Box 90420 - 80100 G.P.O Mombasa, Kenya

Co-investigators

  1. Steve Lindsay

    School of Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK

     

  2. Schola Ratanya

    Department of business administration, School of Business, Technical University of Mombasa, Tudor Area, Tom Mboya Street, P.O. Box 90420 - 80100 G.P.O Mombasa, Kenya

Lay Summary

Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal in the world because they carry pathogens that make humans sick. One very important mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, spreads dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This mosquito bites in the day time and likes to breed in man-made containers, such as recyclable plastic containers, tires, and trash. In this proposal, our primary objective is to test whether a community-based recycling program can engage aspiring business people to turn trash into profit in Kwale County, Kenya. We know that trash is the most productive mosquito habitat in this region, so we expect to improve health by reducing mosquito-borne diseases (such as dengue (DENV) and chikungunya (CHIKV) viruses) and to alleviate poverty by generating income. In our study site, Kwale County, there is a particularly high rate of unemployment, especially among young adults. Our proposal will entice individuals to improve health of their communities while making money. Community-based vector control programs in both Kenya and Mexico have paid community members to perform vector control activities; however, these programs don’t last because they rely on a constant support from donors or the government. We will overcome this challenge by providing community members with the support needed to generate income from trash to make vector control profitable. Trash, specifically unused containers like bottles, buckets, and tires, can be re-purposed for a variety of profitable items. As part of ongoing studies, we have conducted meetings where community members expressed interest in creating value from trash, but initial support is needed in the form of start-up funds, mentorship, and skill-building. Trash to Treasure: Collecting trash for profit to reduce vector breeding sites in Kwale County, Kenya. We hypothesize that profitable businesses which motivate community members to remove trash from the community will reduce vector breeding containers. From our ongoing studies, we have identified that the majority of mosquito breeding sites are in unused containers or “trash.” Our team has another project that has identified the potential for community members to collect trash and create value. So far, 250 school children have collected more than one ton of trash consisting of nearly 30,000 containers which they are using to plant trees in school grounds, neighbourhoods and homesteads. This ongoing study has laid the groundwork to spark community members to turn trash into treasure.