Mobile technology is aiding garbage management in Nairobi

How waste management issues are impacting us in Kenya

For many city residents, sparing some extra money to pay private entities (and individuals) every month to collect garbage from their houses/homes has become a norm so they can live in cleaner sorroundings. This is how efficiency and effectiveness of garbage collection directly affects you and me. For me, I hardly conceive it as acceptable because it takes away an extra bob from me, even though I had to do it anyway!

study commissioned by UNEP previously found that out of 328 children living around the Nairobi's main dumpsite in Dandora, half had concentrations of lead above internationally accepted levels in their blood. That's another bad way this heap could affect all of us, so the solution is not heaping. Other effects include pollution and emission of greenhouse gases from materials in the garbage heaps.

I personally hadn't understood the extent of the problem until I set my foot to the densely populated nearby surbub of Dandora and even though it was my first time to be at the dumpsite, I did not need to inquire when to alight the vehicle as the stench greeted me from afar and the heap was visible from the vehicle. At least that is what the many residents have to bear with daily since the dumpsite is yet to be replaced with a sanitation landfill.   

Many municipalities in the country face the challenge of transporting waste, with coordination of garbage collection initiatives being a key challenge for them. In deed, National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA), which is the body mandated to oversee implementation of waste policies/laws in Kenya concedes that some of these municipalities lack regulated mode of transporting waste. The body estimates that only 40% of waste generated in the urban centers is collected and disposed to designated sites. It means that 60% of waste around the country is unaccounted for, and ends in undesirable destinations such as rivers, with adverse effects to the environment and health.

Image: Men, women and children sort out damped garbage at the Dandora dumpsite at the stare of my shot (they do so to seperate what is recyclable)

Nairobi alone generates about 3,200 tons of waste daily, with only about 29% being collected. The amount of waste generated in Nairobi is likely to grow to 3500 tonnes per day in 2030. The county government recognizes that poor disposal infrastructure is one of the biggest problems hampering collection. But Nairobi only serves one example of the many cities and major towns that are lacking necessary and adequate facilities to collect and handle waste. Out of 750 tons of waste generated in Mombasa (the second largest city in Kenya) daily, only a small portion manages to reach safe sites. The third largest city is Kisumu, which generates about 400 tons daily yet has no municipal dumpsite.

Other factors that undermine success in waste management include poor transport and infrastructure, negative public perception, minimal linkages with financiers, and adoption of non-viable management solutions, as well as inefficient initiatives to reclaim waste. This means private waste reclaimer groups and municipal or city councils in the country are inefficient and not sufficiently dealing with the problem. Studies largely recognize that most waste management systems are not economically viable.

Hit the hardest by these poor waste collection trends are informal settlements. Creative Consolidated with license to collect garbage on behalf of the city council. The company will complement services by about other eight collectors. About 56 private firms were barred to engage in the practice with the attempt to increase standards in the sector. Now the laws of the land establish some standards for trucks that are to be employed in collection of garbage. With about 31 trucks procured by city council, only 250 tonnes will be transported daily.

With all this, Kenya comes out as an example of many developing nations where the public sector is unable to deliver waste management services effectively and local authorities face many challenges to achieve the goal. 


READ ON:  Our solution in Nairobi - powered by IBM technology