Community-based Waste Management Model (COBWAMM)

Big Ship CBO
Published: 11 May 2021
Last edited: 11 May 2021
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Community-based Waste Management Model (COBWAMM) is a youth-led social enterprise inspired by the Big Ship organization. Its mission is "To provide a reliable, affordable and efficient waste management service and derive value from resource-rich waste products in order to promote healthy communities and protect natural resources."


COBWAMM has two strategies:

  1. Resource Collection (RECO) - This is a franchise model that simplifies solid waste management operations for the urban poor, placing special emphasis on helping women and young people;
  2. Material Recovery Facility (MAREFA) - This is a model for deriving value from resource-rich waste in order to improve livelihoods. 

With a view to increasing the rate of waste collection, particularly in low-income and densely populated neighbourhoods, efforts are taken to sort and generate revenue from materials at source. 


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Coastal forest
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Cities and infrastructure
Ecosystem services
Food security
Gender mainstreaming
Indigenous people
Infrastructure maintenance
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Marine litter
Not listed
Outreach & communications
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Waste management
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
City management, governance and finance
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Urban poverty and housing
Erratic rainfall
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Ocean warming and acidification
Vector and water borne diseases
Ecosystem loss
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of infrastructure
Social conflict and civil unrest
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through consumers
Indirect through government


Mombasa, Kenya
Mikindani, Mombasa, Kenya


Challenges addressed

  • Lack of adequate and affordable waste collection service
  • Littering of the environment
  • Lack of sorting at source culture
  • Poor solid waste management practices in urban centres and densely populated neighbourhoods of Mombasa County
  • Weak research and development (R&D) function limiting green innovation and entrepreneurship in the sector through innovative collection, recovery and divergence of waste.
  • Poor waste disposal in the County and the resulting pressure on marine ecosystems including plastics and solid waste pollution in mangrove creeks


  • 1.3 million residents of Mombasa County through the provision of a cleaner healthier environment
  • Youths and women guaranteed sustainable livelihoods
  • County Government of Mombasa
  • Waste pickers, informal and formal garbage collectors within the sector

How do the building blocks interact?

Primary Collection

  • Mapping of waste collection zones.
  • GIS mapping conducted progressively to determine the waste collection zones that have the potential for the services. 

Transfer / Transportation

  • COBWAMM is engaging the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to ensure that waste storage areas are carefully assessed and monitored to limit any environmental harm.

Sorting and Separating Waste

  • The waste generators have the advantage of reducing the cost of waste collection services by sorting materials at the source.
  • COBWAMM has established buy-back stations to buy recovered material from anyone willing to sell.


  • Facilited effective residential waste collection especially in low-income and populated neighbourhoods. 
  • Provided innovative training on entrepreneurship, including how to start and run social enterprises.
  • Developed networks of both private and public waste actors. 
  • Improved state of the environment, employment opportunities and higher living standards for the urban poor including youths, women and people with disabilities.


Big Ship CBO

It's 2009. My priority is to survive and serve my community. As a young and energetic person straight out of high school, I couldn't find a better thing to do than help save my community from drowning in illegal waste while combatting high levels of unemployment. Together with like-minded youths, I decided to give it a shot and soon found myself as a director of a community-based organization. Our story has not only inspired more youths to follow in our footsteps but has provided key partners with a mirror to reflect on what could become of people like us when given the opportunity in a conducive environment to exercise our talents, skills and knowledge in an ever-challenging world. Today I am not only a director but I have managed to give back to my community by facilitating the development of social enterprises that provide solutions to real problems in real-time. 

Contributed by

Bosco Juma