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Rocks of despair – quarry scavengers

East Kenya

Life couldn’t be tougher for these women. Widowed and working in quarries with no support system, they’re barely surviving. There is no safe way to carry out this work – we have to get them out. We’re supporting Commonwealth Business Women Africa to educate them about the hazards they face, train them in other industries and find sustainable employment elsewhere. We need to make their working lives safer and more rewarding.

These are based on the risk assessment recommendations for a safer and healthier working life for the quarry scavengers and include both short- and long-term targets. You can download the risk assessment at the bottom of this page.

Get the women out of the quarry – because there is no safe way to carry out this work. Support the women in returning to their heritage skillsets and open new trade opportunities.

Educate workers on the hazards they face and how they cause harm.

Provide training in other industries, so the women can find sustained employment outside the quarry.

Provide legal advice, investment and sales training to support the development of co-operatives of a sufficient size to sell their new products to the main exporters directly, for the best price. 

“My mum... was moving the top soil to access the stones. The sand walls collapsed on her. The soil contained large stones and there was no time for her to step aside to avoid impact. The stones crushed her feet, breaking her bones. She is now dependent on me too."

Job role

Who is involved

  • Commonwealth Business Women Africa (CBW-Africa)
  • Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC)
  • Government of Kenya
  • Equity Bank
  • Local IOSH members
  • IOSH consultants
  • Fishmonger women and quarry scavengers
  1. Local OSH experts and IOSH members have conducted an impartial risk assessment to assess the current conditions.

  2. CBW-Africa has sent a food parcel to be distributed among the women.

  3. Ten sewing machines secured for the women to use.

    • Project team has identified five acres of land to lease for regenerative agriculture and carried out soil investigation.
    • An Elder has donated land in Kajiado to empower the women working in the quarries.

We've included information about what's next for the project below. Keep your eye out for updates, which we'll publish as and when we have them.

  1. Train the women to create an ecosystem. The intention is for the women to work, eat and earn from the farm. We're looking for partners to support with this.

  2. Train the women how to produce high-end products such as corporate gifts, for example handmade coasters and branded Maasai fleece blankets using the sewing machines. We're looking for partners to support with this.

  3. The women will be trained here as well as showcase/sell their products, including produce from their farm. We're looking for partners to support with construction.

We welcome your support in helping people stay safe at work. It can change the lives of the most vulnerable workers. Find out more about these projects and the work we are doing.

IOSH risk assessment for quarry scavengers (pdf) (750.385KB) (opens in a new tab)