Struggling for health, security and dignity
By Oluoch Japheth Ogola and Fr Daniel Moschetti, mccj
The Dandora Municipal Dump Site, the only dump site in Nairobi is located 8 km away from Nairobi’s Central Business District. It is adjacent to Korogocho slums, the fourth largest slum in Nairobi with a population of about 120,000 inhabitants. The dumpsite has been in place for over thirty years, a direct contravention of international environmental laws, which require that dumpsites be closed down after ten to fifteen years of usage. The site also affects Dandora, Kariobangi and Baba Dogo residents with a total population of about 900,000 inhabitants. In fact, the over thirty acres of solid waste is encroaching into the residential houses in Dandora.
The City Council of Nairobi established the dumpsite in the mid 1970s over a disused quarry in the then sparsely populated outskirts of Nairobi. The area is now home to about one million people. The intention was then to fill up the quarry but it has now developed into one of the greatest humanitarian nightmares in Nairobi’s history particularly to the residents of Korogocho, Kariobangi, Dandora and the neighbourhoods.
Business interests in dumpsite
All garbage from Nairobi’s industries, hotels, restaurant, airport, and residential areas is dumped here. Private cartels control business at the dumpsite. The site is also a politically sensitive area. Politicians are allegedly involved in the dump site affairs, owning some of the lorries which dump garbage at the site. The dumpsite is believed to be a multimillion industry and the local politicians are believed to be highly involved in maintaining the status quo while taking different positions over the relocation of the dumpsite depending on which position is convenient to them at a particular time in point.
The Dandora dumpsite has a number of co-operatives of youth and women which have come up to sort and recycle some of this waste. These cartels hire them to sort out and recycle wastes from industries and residential estates in Nairobi. Due to hard economic times which has spawned a culture of survival, these people earn between Ksh 50-150 (USD 0.75-2.3) a day. They work under harsh conditions without any protective clothing. Their employers do not cover them when they get sick. Getting sick here is as common as a hobby and this is manifested in the high death rate of those working at the dumpsite.
Danger to public health
Dandora Dumpsite is home to all kinds of wastes. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report released in October 2007 found out that industrial wastes such as fall-offs, used chemicals, raw materials, expired products and substandard goods are offloaded at the dumpsite. The report titled ‘Environmental Pollution and Impacts On Public Health, The impact of the Dandora Dumping Site in Nairobi, Kenya’i further reveals that agricultural wastes such as fungicides and herbicides and hospital waste including packaging materials, and containers, used syringes and other sharp, biological