In the coastal Kenyan city of Mombasa sanitation has been a growing problem. The city is speckled with “waste collection sites” – essentially massive trash dumps – that function as communal trash disposal solutions for citizens who are provided with no alternative method of waste disposal, largely as a result of poor government service delivery. Not only are the heaping garbage mounds unaesthetic and odorous, they also present a constant threat to the health of Mombasa citizens.

In one area of the city, Likoni, citizens and local officials decided to clean-up one of the largest dumping sites dubbed Mt. Lillian. Working with the International Republican Institute (IRI), members of the Job Creation and Waste Management working groups – which were established to address priority issues set by the community as identified in IRI polling – came together to identify standardized trash collection points as well as employment opportunities within the trash collection industry. As a result of their work Mt. Lillian was cleaned-up and the community has now turned their attention to other trash dumps. Though the overall process of improved trash disposal has been gradual, the removal of Mt. Lillian is a clear demonstration that civil society and elected officials are committed to addressing citizens’ concerns and improving service delivery in Mombasa.

The removal of Mt. Lillian and the collaboration between civil society and elected officials is a part of IRI’s democratic governance program in Mombasa, which brings together citizens, community leaders and elected officials to set priorities and improve service delivery. Similar efforts to improve service delivery at the local level have begun in the western city of Kisumu.

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