Andrew Kartende | Next Life
Uganda Press Photo Award
Robert, an ironmonger in Kiteezi, Kampala, makes small kerosene lamps out of tin cans for a living. He searches in the landfills of Kampala for steel tins which he takes and cleans up, carefully checking them for rust. He uses steel because it can be recycled over and over again indefinitely, with no loss of its essential properties. Once he finds a good can, Robert makes a lid for it from pieces of another can and then carefully inserts a cotton wick through an opening he makes in the new lid. Then he adds a small handle to make the lamp complete. When filled with kerosene these little lamps, known in Luganda as tadooba, provide a steady, though smokey, source of light. Once Robert has a batch ready he goes out on the city streets in search of buyers. His lamps are used by street vendors to light their stalls and in informal housing where electricity is scarce. The kinds of upcycling done by makers like Robert forms the basis of a micro-economy for people living around Kampala's major landfill sites. It allows them to earn a living while helping to reduce waste and protect the environment.