Thieme, Tatania / 2010. Youth, waste and work in Mathare: whose business and whose politics?
Environment and Urbanization, 22 (2): 333-352.

In Nairobi’s Mathare Valley, one of the largest and oldest informal settlements in East Africa, waste has become a source of income generation for youth and a means of asserting slum dwellers’ rights to the city. While waste management has become a platform for engaging with the broader politics of basic services, it also interfaces with “sustainability” initiatives that invite alternative market-based approaches to address the challenges of poverty. It is at once a critique and an enabler of the excesses of modernity, at once a business and a form of political mobilization and contestation. The politics of work and waste among youth reflects alternative modes of urbanization grounded in both the dynamics of youth culture among the urban poor and grassroots market-based approaches to the provision of basic services.

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Appeared in

Sector: Enterprise Sanitation
Region: East Africa