waste and pharmaceuticals are all dumped at the site.
The pilot study has linked environmental pollution to public health. Soil samples analyzed from locations adjacent to and within the dumpsite show high levels of heavy metals emanating from the site, in particular lead, mercury, cadmium, copper and chromium. At the same time, a medical evaluation of the children and adolescents living and schooling near the dumpsite indicates a high incidence of diseases that are associated with high exposure levels to these metal pollutants. For example, about 50% of children examined who live and school near the dumpsite had respiratory ailments and blood lead levels equal to or exceeding internationally accepted toxic levels (10ug/dl of blood) while 30% had size and staining abnormalities of their red blood cells, confirming high exposure to heavy metal poisoning.
In 1998, the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) observed that the site poses a serious air pollution problem, which affects the health of human beings and scavenger animals. This is also evident in the huge amounts of smoke emanating from the dumpsite risking the lives of those working and living around. This particularly affects pupils from the neighbouring schools. A long delay in waste collection generates a foul smelling liquid called leachate, which is considered a high water polluter.
Children exploited as labourers on and consumers of garbage
The dumpsite equally poses serious social and political threats. Being an open space the dumpsite encourages and attracts many children to turn to street life since they scavenge for items from the dump site which they sell. Schools such as St John Informal School in Korogocho have reported cases of pupils escaping from school to work at the dump site. Due to high poverty levels in Korogocho slums and its neighbouring settlements, some parents encourage their children to go to ‘Mukuru’ as the dumpsite is popularly known to fend for themselves and also support the family. While some critics will defend this habit, it is a disastrous short term solution to a larger, complex and longer social and economic problem.
Groups of people particularly street boys and those working at the dumpsite select items and food stuffs dumped by tens of lorries and sell them back to slum residents at prices lower than retail rates. The dumpsite area has more than twenty primary schools and a number of secondary schools. A visit in each of the schools reveals that a lot of the waste foodstuff such as sweets and chocolate from the dumpsite are sold at the gates of these schools. Hygiene is not observed and sometimes the food is expired. This puts at risk the lives of many children. One does not want to imagine what would happen if the foodstuffs are contaminated! An entire generation could be in danger.
The health hazards associated with the Dandora dumpsite according the UNEP report includes skin disorders, respiratory abnormalities, abdominal and intestinal problems central nervous system and blood disorders. Diseases such as malaria, chicken pox, lung cancer, septic wounds and genital abnormalities are more prevalent among the people living around the dumpsite. The UNEP report further reveals.