In East Africa, ChildFund and Coca-Cola Foundation are partnering to protect the environment and change lives

Home > Learn More > ChildFund Blog > In East Africa, ChildFund and Coca-Cola Foundation are partnering to protect the environment and change lives
By Sarah Leitner, Advisor Sr., Global Corporate Partnerships Posted on 04/21/2023

Close your eyes and picture East Africa. What do you see? Perhaps you envision abundant wildlife roaming a pristine landscape, an untouched village with rolling hills, or maybe a fisherman casting a net into water. But across the world, plastic pollution and climate change are altering environments to the detriment of those who live there, and East Africa has not been spared. That’s why ChildFund has partnered with the Coca-Cola Foundation to help mitigate the impacts of plastic pollution and climate change in Kenya and Uganda.


With a rapidly growing population of 4.4 million, Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi and its surrounding areas are struggling to manage increased waste, which has coincided with limited management services. Plastic waste litters the sides of roads and vacant lots, destroying natural habitats, contaminating water and food sources and killing livestock. Plastic waste pollutes the environment and poses health risks to those who live in nearby communities. Children in particular are vulnerable to the impacts of plastic pollution. They’re more likely to come into contact with plastic waste while playing, leading them to ingest or inhale microplastics, which can cause serious health problems.

Through our partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation, ChildFund is working with community members in Mukuru – a low-income informal settlement east of Nairobi City – to turn plastic waste into wealth generation. The project, Tunawiri na Taka or Thriving through Waste Management, is forming waste collection groups comprised of women and youth, training them in waste management and entrepreneurship while also linking them to waste recyclers. As the women and youth collect discarded plastic in their communities, they have the opportunity to sell what they collect to waste recyclers who then use the plastic to create new products.

“The Tunawiri na Taka Project will ensure the proper disposal of waste at central collection points,” says ChildFund Kenya Country Director Alice Anukur, “greatly reducing the spread of diseases like cholera, especially for children under 5 years and pregnant and lactating mothers.”

Woman in Kenya talks to a group of people seated at a table.

ChildFund Kenya Country Director Alice Anukur chats with youth participants during the Tunawiri na Taka project launch.



In neighboring Uganda, many of the people who have historically depended on the land for their livelihoods live in areas with increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather patterns, including floods and droughts, which are affecting crop yields. These changes disproportionately impact women, who are often responsible for cultivating crops. And as climate change exacerbates existing gender disparities, it is making it more difficult for women to access resources and opportunities.

Additionally, Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with over 78% of the population under the age of 30. As a result, the country is grappling with a lack of economic opportunities for youth, which has been exacerbated by the devastating effects of COVID-19. Uganda’s COVID-19 lockdown measures led to a spike in teenage pregnancies; the rate of teen pregnancy in Uganda stands at 25% , furthering the economic divide between young women and men.

ChildFund and the Coca-Cola Foundation are working together to better the economic well-being of young women through the Women and Youth Economic Empowerment (WYEE) project in Uganda’s Aruria, Katakwi, Serere and Dokolo districts. WYEE seeks to increase the income of women and youth – particularly teenage mothers – through skills development, education on environmental sustainability and economic diversification. For those who wish to remain in the agricultural sector, ChildFund is helping them to navigate the changing environment by introducing farmers to resilient, drought-resistant crops, promoting crop diversification and teaching improved methods of land management and crop protection.

Man in Uganda stands at a table giving a speech.

ChildFund Uganda Country Director Moses Otai speaks at the WYEE project launch.


But communities that rely solely on farming as a source of income are vulnerable to environmental degradation and depleted resources. By promoting economic diversification, communities can reduce their dependence on a single industry. What’s more, when households have multiple sources of income, they are better able to withstand fluctuations and maintain a more stable standard of living. With the Coca-Cola Foundation’s support, ChildFund is also providing trainings on microenterprise development for those who are interested in exploring other vocations, including mechanics and tailoring, as well as connecting them to apprenticeships.

"We are proud to support initiatives that empower women and youth, as they are instrumental in shaping the financial future of Uganda and the greater East African region," says Saadia Madsbjerg, president of the Coca-Cola Foundation. "By building community resilience and fostering economic diversification, we believe these individuals will become catalysts for positive change within their communities. We commend ChildFund for their extraordinary efforts and look forward to celebrating inspiring stories of hope and success."

For over 80 years, ChildFund has strived to address the underlying conditions that prevent any child from achieving their full potential. But in recent years, major changes to local environments have added a new dimension to the equation. Today, ChildFund is working with the Coca-Cola Foundation to help children and families navigate these changes, giving them the opportunity to thrive now and in the future.