Danger to environment
The Nairobi River also passes besides the dumpsite aggravating the situation. Some of the waste ends up in the river, extending suffering to thousands of people. Street children bathe in the river while residents also plant vegetables along the river bed. The UNEP report reveals the existence of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and copper and some organic pollutants such as aldrin, dieldrin and carbonates. People are exposed to these chemicals through consumption of the vegetables and other risky behaviours. In the absence of sewerage services, locals who use drums to drain the toilets pour the human waste into the river, worsening the situation. With the presence of a forty meter deep abandoned quarry separating the river from the dumpsite, the Dandora Dumping Site is a mystery of a triple tragedy.
The site poses a serious health hazard to those working in and around the area. Since burning is widely used to reduce the amount of waste, the site is a major source of dioxins, furans, lead and cadmium, elements which have been scientifically proved to be toxic to both humans and the environment.
Safe-haven for criminals
Furthermore, the site provides safe haven to gun trotting criminals who operate from the site, using it as a hiding place and crime strategising point. Murder victims are rumoured to have been buried at the site while dangerous cults and groups also operate from the site. Pathways connecting the different estates of the area such as Dandora, Lucky Summer and Korogocho pass through the dumpsite and these paths are no go zones in the evening and even during the day, with criminals robbing passers-by and disappearing into the dumpsite.
Dumpsite as source of ‘employment’ for the local
The site has caused a dependency culture where those who benefit from it believe that their livelihoods entirely depend on the site and they lack any alternatives. Some critics of the relocation allege that it would render those working there jobless. However, the truth is that the proponents of the relocation have proposed that modern recycling facilities be put in place to ensure that about 80 percent of the waste is recycled and to employ more young people of the area. Further, it has asked the City Council of Nairobi to decentralise waste management and involve all the youths currently working in cooperatives around the city and at the dumping site in sorting and recycling at improved terms of reference.
Action for positive change
What options then do we have for the Dandora Dumpsite? The situation of the dumpsite cannot be allowed to worsen but it has to be fenced and closed. Various stakeholders must come up with alternatives which will address both the environmental and economic effects of the dumpsite. To be able to solve this problem, the stakeholders must be motivated by the need to save the majority poor whose lives are at risk. This is a big battle which can only be won if all of us come on board with clean hands. In bringing real change and transformation in our area, individuals and groups within the community