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THE DANDORA DUMPSITE IN NAIROBI: STATUS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY
FORWARD
BY
CAXTON GITONGA KAUA
Caxtonk2008@yahoo.com
WAN...
2
THE DANDORA DUMPSITE IN NAIROBI: STATUS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY
FORWARD
INTRODUCTION
The Dandora dumpsite handles all th...
3
Various solutions have been suggested including establishment of a semi aerobic land fill
currently being piloted and es...
4
dumpsite. Cells numbers 5 and 6 are not used during the rainy season due to loose soils. Cells
number 1 and 2 are the on...
5
waste. Those who bring unwanted wastes to the dumpsites are required to go back with their
wastes. The dumpsite operator...
6
exposed to hazards associated with the dumpsite including physical injury, skin disease, blood
poisoning and respiratory...
7
health used as an indicator of effectiveness of the purification process. The pilot semi aerobic
landfill has been const...
8
The dumpsite provides cheap raw materials such as separated plastics thus increasing the
profitability of recipient comp...
9
involved in the separation business feel that improved technologies such as better sorting
technology would lock them ou...
10
placing the dumpsite at the middle of residential areas and also being overwhelmed by
the resultant waste amounts to be...
11
 There is also a problem of insecurity associated with the dumpsite. This is especially
caused by unregistered separat...
12
the dumpsite now lay in waste and can only be occupied by the separators free of charge.
The dumpsite also causes land ...
13
 Awareness creation of city residents on waste management problems and solutions
 An integrated approach in addressin...
14
 There is need for coming up with ways of harvesting the gases emitted from the dumpsite
to avoid fires and boost effi...
15
The Dandora dumpsite continues to pose great threats to humanity. This is due to the fact that
that the dumpsite has ou...
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The dandora dumpsite in nairobi city; status, challenges and way forward

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The Dandora dumpsite handles all the wastes generated by Nairobi City, East Africas’ largest and most populous City. It is located 8 KMs from the citys’ central business district. The dumpsite measures 26.2 Hectares and has been in operation for over thirty years. The dumpsite receives over 1500 tonnes of waste on a daily basis of which forms a less than half of Nairobis’ total generated waste.
Started in the 1970S’ by Nairobi City council, the site was initially a quarry. It was therefore established with the intention of filling up and eventually rehabilitating the quarry. However the dumpsite has been in operation for a period that far exceeds the ten to fifteen year limit set by international laws for the use of a dumpsite. It has thus ended up becoming a humanitarian nightmare especially for the surrounding communities, although it is considered by a blessing by those who depend on it for a living.
The dumpsite is surrounded by various residential estates including: Dandora, Baba Ndogo, Kariobangi and Korogocho of which is Nairobi Citys’ fourth largest slum. These estates harbor a population of over a million people and this is growing fast fuelled by among other factors the high urban immigration common in Africa.
Dumping at the site goes on due to lack of an alternative site and the interest of the dumpsite beneficiaries who are totally against its relocation. Attempts to move it has been strongly opposed by those benefiting from it. Attempts to move it to Ruai on the outskirts of Nairobi was strongly opposed by the community around the area who felt this was an attempt to dump the problem on them. Various solutions have been suggested including establishment of a semi aerobic land fill currently being piloted and establishment of thermal electricity generation plant among others.
The Dandora dumpsite continues to pose great threats to humanity. This is due to the fact that that the dumpsite has outlived its lifespan and overpassed its capacity. The activities in the dumpsite are not effective or efficient in dealing with the high amount of waste generated by in its source area. Attempts to address the situation continue to hit dead ends despite the many existing opportunities and developed plans.
Despite the many challenges that abound an alternative site needs to be urgently identified and modern recycling methods put into use. The plight of the separators operating at the dumpsite also needs to be addressed to ensure that solutions adopted don’t marginalize them and negate their great dependency on this malpractice. The participation of the people in the process of better waste management is also imperative

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The dandora dumpsite in nairobi city; status, challenges and way forward

  1. 1. 1 THE DANDORA DUMPSITE IN NAIROBI: STATUS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD BY CAXTON GITONGA KAUA Caxtonk2008@yahoo.com WANGARI MAATHAI INSTITUTE FOR PEACE AND ENVIRONMENT STUDIES
  2. 2. 2 THE DANDORA DUMPSITE IN NAIROBI: STATUS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD INTRODUCTION The Dandora dumpsite handles all the wastes generated by Nairobi City, East Africas’ largest and most populous City. It is located 8 KMs from the citys’ central business district. The dumpsite measures 26.2 Hectares and has been in operation for over thirty years. The dumpsite receives over 1500 tonnes of waste on a daily basis of which forms a less than half of Nairobis’ total generated waste. Started in the 1970S’ by Nairobi City council, the site was initially a quarry. It was therefore established with the intention of filling up and eventually rehabilitating the quarry. However the dumpsite has been in operation for a period that far exceeds the ten to fifteen year limit set by international laws for the use of a dumpsite. It has thus ended up becoming a humanitarian nightmare especially for the surrounding communities, although it is considered by a blessing by those who depend on it for a living. The dumpsite is surrounded by various residential estates including: Dandora, Baba Ndogo, Kariobangi and Korogocho of which is Nairobi Citys’ fourth largest slum. These estates harbor a population of over a million people and this is growing fast fuelled by among other factors the high urban immigration common in Africa. Dumping at the site goes on due to lack of an alternative site and the dumpsite beneficiaries who are totally against its relocation. Attempts to move it has been strongly opposed by those benefiting from it. Attempts to move it to Ruai on the outskirts of Nairobi was strongly opposed by the community around the area who felt this was an attempt to dump the problem on them.
  3. 3. 3 Various solutions have been suggested including establishment of a semi aerobic land fill currently being piloted and establishment of thermal electricity generation plant among others. OBJECTIVES The objectives of the study included:  To do a situational analysis of the Dandora dumpsite  To identify the challenges facing waste management at the dumpsite and Nairobi city  Learn the underlying factors and behavioral processes that have led to this situation  To identify and learn existing opportunities for dealing with the issue  To come up with a way forward for waste management in Nairobi and other places METHODOLOGY The study employed various methods. Firstly, there was administration of a mini quiz to help gather information and gather knowledge about the dumpsite. Talks given by people working at the dumpsite e.g. the Nairobi city council staff were also conducted. Key informant interviews were also done with some of the staff and informed individuals working at the dumpsite. Observation was also a key method used in collecting information during the study. OPERATIONS AT THE DUMPSITE The dump site is operated by the Nairobi city county government. The site is manned by nineteen staff members. The dumpsite operates over a 24 hour period per day. The dumpsite has been divided into cells for purposes of effective management. The cells in operation at any particular time depends on the prevailing season and the number of machines operating at the
  4. 4. 4 dumpsite. Cells numbers 5 and 6 are not used during the rainy season due to loose soils. Cells number 1 and 2 are the ones used during the rainy season. The city is divided into 18 zones from where the waste is sourced from. The dump site mainly handles domestic wastes. Only nontoxic wastes from hospitals are handled by the dumpsite with the toxic waste being managed using incinerators. Companies don’t dump at the site except for a few exceptional ones such as Chandaria industries. Waste at the dumpsite is dumped either by individual waste management business operators, companies or the Nairobi City council. These use various types of dumping trucks including: self-tipping trucks, small trucks and manually unloaded trucks. On arrival at the dumpsite a truck passes over a computerized weighing bridge. The truck is weighed during entry and at exit so as to tell the delivered waste as per the difference between the two figures arrived at. When the weighing bridge is not operating the weight of the delivered waste is estimated based on experience. Every dumping truck should have a supervisor to ensure adherence to set regulations. At the entry to the dumpsite, the staffs in charge are supposed to record the waste management companys’ name, the particular truck drivers name and the dumping trucks registration number On dumping of wastes, the dumpers are charged a fee of KShs 100 per tonne of waste dumped. Nairobi city council trucks however do not pay for dumping at the site. Payment is done through three modes i.e. cheques for the big companies, Invoices for the hired trucks and cash for the small companies and individual operators. Dumping of the wastes is mainly done during the day. Only self-tipping trucks manned by a supervisor can be allowed to dump at night for purposes of security and adherence to regulations. It is the responsibility of the dumpers to unload their
  5. 5. 5 waste. Those who bring unwanted wastes to the dumpsites are required to go back with their wastes. The dumpsite operators work hand in hand with other city county departments to ensure adherence to regulations. The sorting of wastes at the dumpsite is done by separators who operate on their own. There are various machines that assist work at the dumpsite. These include dozers for moving wastes and compaction and excavators for opening up drainages for the leachate. The machines also help in maintaining access roads to the dumpsite. The machines are either hired or owned by the county government. There have been attempts to improve operations at the dumpsites with many plans being developed but shelved. These have included attempts to set up a semi aerobic landfill to deal with the waste. There were also plans to develop a thermal energy plant using the waste. THE WASTE SEPARATORS There are 3000 waste separators currently working at the dumpsite. These are organized into eleven groups. The separators are registered for purposes of coordination and security. This is because stray separators are the main cause of insecurity at the dumpsite. The activities of the separators help in ensuring sorting and recycling of wastes dumped at the site. The separators are thus interested in the non-separated wastes. The separators also assist the authority in spotting those who bring or drop unwanted waste at the dumpsite. The wastes that are separated for recycling are sold to companies mainly through middlemen. These middlemen are mostly organized into cartels and are thus very exploitative towards the separators. They thus don’t only pay the separators poorly but they hardly provide any form of insurance cover or protective gear to those whom they have hired. The separators are thus highly
  6. 6. 6 exposed to hazards associated with the dumpsite including physical injury, skin disease, blood poisoning and respiratory problems. PROPOSED SEMI AEROBIC LANDFILL The county government hopes to adopt this technology as the future means of dealing with waste at the dumpsite. The method is already being piloted at cell number 4 although it is yet to start operating. The technology has been developed following capacity building by JICA. The semi aerobic landfill technology helps to purify leachate leaving the landfill and also release gases into the atmosphere hence reducing incidences of fires. At an advanced level these gases can be trapped and used either to produce electricity or for heating purposes. The construction of this landfill involves excavating the site and laying of collection pipes on the ground. These should be laid diagonally to a central pipe. They are reinforced using concrete. The amount of concrete used in reinforcement should not be too much otherwise the pipes will collapse. The pipes have perforations on the lower side for collection of wastes. These perforations should be made as low as possible to maximize leachate collection otherwise the landfill will collapse under its weight. The central pipe should be made of concrete. There are venting pipes pointing upwards for release of gases from the land fill. This gas venting pipe is perforated all over. The collected leachate gathers at a collection pond at the end of the landfill before it is released. If the leachate is not well cleaned at the time it reaches the collection pond it can be rerouted back into the landfill to ensure further purification. The waste in the landfill is not removed but decay continues overtime as aeration occurs. To monitor effectiveness of the landfill, certain species of trees or vegetation can be planted along the cleaned leachate release way and their
  7. 7. 7 health used as an indicator of effectiveness of the purification process. The pilot semi aerobic landfill has been constructed using material collected form the dumpsite. BENEFITS DERIVED FROM THE DUMPSITE The dumpsite, despite its many challenges has various benefits especially to the separators. Firstly, the waste separated by these separators earns them an income when they sell it. The separated waste fetches money depending on its type. The separated waste is bought by various companies such as Chandaria and Kariobangi light Industries although various challenges such as exploitative middlemen exist. The wastes separated include electronic waste although this hardly ever reaches the dumpsite. Plastics separated at the dumpsite are sold at KShs 12 per KG. Papers are sold at KShs 3 per KG while plastic paper fetches KShs 15 per KG. Aluminum metal such as dumped sufurias fetches between KShs 80 to KShs 100 per KG. One bundle of separated food at the dumpsite is sold at KShs 50 per one Unga bundle bag. The separators have organized themselves into groups to enable them access bank loans for use in advancing their income generating activities. Some separators are also involved in making finished products from the waste. A women group is reported to be making polythene based kiondos from the dumpsites wastes. It is due to such benefits that the separators feel that the waste should come to the dumpsite unseparated and that it should never be moved to another location nor alternative technologies adopted to deal with the waste. The dumpsite also supports livestock keeping. This includes pig keeping which has also been practiced by the separators at the dumpsite. These livestock are fed using waste separated at the dumpsite. The dumpsite is also a habitat for the marabou stocks that inhabit the dumpsite.
  8. 8. 8 The dumpsite provides cheap raw materials such as separated plastics thus increasing the profitability of recipient companies. The dumpsite also keeps many young people occupied without which they would be idle leading to an escalation of criminal activity. The dumpsite by acting as a demonstration focal learning point for people dealing with wastes has led to an increase in knowledge on the same. A lot of research has been done on the dumpsite leading to generation of literature that is vital for the development of better waste management technology. CHALLENGES  Despite the fact that the dumpsite is filled up and has far outlived the internationally recommended lifespan of a dumpsite, the Dandora dumpsite has had to continue operating due to lack of an alternative site. Attempts to move it to Ruai hit a dead end when the local residents protested against the move since they saw this as an attempt to export a problem to them. The Kenya airways also opposed this due to the fact that Ruai is on a busy airway which would pose a great risk given the many birds that would be attracted to the dumpsite  There has been political interference hence an obstacle to any attempts to modernize or relocate the dumpsite. This is based on the fact that some powerful local politicians see this would lead to a loss of their political constituency in terms of votes provided by the dumpsite community or the support they receive from those operating cartels running the dumpsite. Some of the politicians are actually members of the cartels operating activities at the dumpsite and moving the site to areas where they harbor no influence would serve to diminish their economic and political capital  Members of the dumpsite community and other powerful individuals operating here have also hindered modernization or relocation of the dumpsite. The separators and cartels
  9. 9. 9 involved in the separation business feel that improved technologies such as better sorting technology would lock them out of business and deny them waste to separate  There is also the problem of lack of good equipment and facilities for running the dumpsite. An example is the frequent breakdown of the computerized weigh bridge system due to e.g. lack of power which exposes the dumpsite activities to unethical practices and inaccurate data collection as dumped waste has then to be estimated. The dumpsite also lacks a compactor for the waste of which is vital for operations of at any dumpsite  The dumpsite personnel also lack adequate capacity. This can be seen in the fact that some claim not to clearly understand the waste management structure of the city council nor the waste management trade jargon. The separators also lack adequate skills and capacity especially on the 3Rs and entrepreneurial skills of which are vital for them  The dumpsite infrastructure is also wanting. This includes inaccessible access routes which can lead to over-dumping at the more accessible points. The dumpsite offices are also wanting and crumped an indicator of the sorry state of the infrastructure. Vandalism could also be a problem as can be seen in the pilot semi aerobic landfill whose pipes are already being stolen  There is also the challenge of exploitation of the separators by cartels. This is due to the largely unregulated nature of their trade which exposes them. They are thus highly underpaid and exposed to the dumpsite hazards due to lack of protective gear and insurance cover  There is a problem of bad siting of the dumpsite. This is given the fact that those who made the decision didn’t factor in nor project a scenario of the city growing far and wide
  10. 10. 10 placing the dumpsite at the middle of residential areas and also being overwhelmed by the resultant waste amounts to be generated. A large population thus continues to live around the dumpsite exposed to its hazards. The soils in parts of the dumpsite are not suitable for a dumpsite e.g. at the cells 5 and 6 that cannot be utilized during the rainy season due to loose soils.  The need for an alternative site once Dandora filled up nor for dumpsite for other city areas wasn’t put into consideration during the citys’ planning. There is thus a problem in its relocation and capacity to handle the citys waste. More so public lands on which the dumpsite could be relocated has long been mostly grabbed and developed  There are also problems related to health that come with the dumpsite. Common health problems include respiratory problems, high level of toxicity in the blood, skin infections, lead poisoning and physical injury among others. The pupils and students of the many schools in the immediate community are also highly exposed. There is a problem of the community buying expired products collected at the dumpsite hence health problems  The pupils and students in the surrounding schools also often drop out of school and go to work in the dumpsite. Some parents also encourage their children to come and work at the dumpsite and help in earning a living for the family rather than going to school. Some pupils thus miss school days and hours by going to the dumpsite while still others drop out completely  The dumpsite has created a dependency syndrome on those who live out of its provisions. They feel that this is the only available means of earning a livelihood. This attitude causes their strong opposition to any attempts at relocating the dumpsite
  11. 11. 11  There is also a problem of insecurity associated with the dumpsite. This is especially caused by unregistered separators. In the past rival gangs have been known to run the dumpsite. There is also often occurrence of violence whenever a group leader has to be removed may be due to leadership malpractices  The dumpsite also has many young girls who come to work as separators. These are exposed to abuse at the site according to information secretly provided by a separator. The girls may also sell their bodies to earn extra money given the harsh live realities they face. The girls may at times submit themselves to sexual exploitation unwillingly in order to gain favours from the more powerful individuals operating in the dumpsite  The other challenge with the dumpsite is the fact that Nairobi River passes near the dumpsite. Leachate from the dumpsite is thus released into the river. This pollutes the water exposing the downstream communities to pollution e.g. heavy metals. This bio- accumulates through the food chain to affect the larger populace. This is due to the fact that this water is also used to cultivate vegetables and raise livestock. The toxic elements in it thus eventually find their way to people who consume these including those of the upper societal classes since the products even find their way to the high end supermarkets. Underground water is also highly polluted  The dumpsite is also a source of acute air pollution. This is given the constant fires that occur at the dumpsite. This releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The gases lead to respiratory problems. There is a problem of foul smell resulting from the dumpsite  The location of the dumpsite has made investments in the area either redundant or led to loss in their value. The properties in the dumpsite vicinity have low value given their proximity to the dumpsite. Some of the residential properties earlier developed close to
  12. 12. 12 the dumpsite now lay in waste and can only be occupied by the separators free of charge. The dumpsite also causes land dereliction in the surroundings affecting its value  The recycling activities of the separators isn’t effective nor enough in dealing with all waste as they only separate what is economically important to them. A lot of waste that could be recycled or put to other use such as energy production thus goes unmanaged  There is non-involvement of city residents and the local communities in decision making appertaining to waste management. They are thus not committed to engage in activities nor follow regulations that would ensure proper waste management due to the resultant low buy in  There is also low awareness of the residents on the relationship between the poor management of the dumpsite and their welfare. They thus continue dumping waste carelessly due the Not In My Backyard Mentality not knowing that the same will find its way back to them through processes such as bioaccumulation and emissions OPPORTUNITIES  Adoption of modern waste recycling technologies e.g. the semi aerobic landfill  Institution of emission trading schemes to create incentives for waste management  Inclusiveness in decision making and policy making processes  Setting up a thermal electricity generation plant to generate power from the waste  Capacity building of staff and separators on relevant skills and technology  Regulation of the waste separation business to avoid exploitation  Formation of a waste separators union for easier access to markets and avoid exploitation  Relocation of the dumpsite to an alternative more convenient location
  13. 13. 13  Awareness creation of city residents on waste management problems and solutions  An integrated approach in addressing waste management issues  Decentralization of waste management  Exchange programs with cities that have succeeded in dealing with waste management  Value addition of the recycled waste by the separators to increase earnings RECOMMENDATIONS  There is an urgent need to identify another site and close the Dandora dumpsite for eventual rehabilitation  There is need to adopt modern recycling technology in future waste management  There is need for proper city planning such that industries that depend on each other’s wastes are located together  Industries that utilize or recycle dumpsites wastes should be strategically located near to them in future  There is need to build the capacity of the dumpsite staff and also the separators  There is need for extensive awareness creation aimed at improving waste management  There is need to pour out expired products before dumping to avoid sale to unsuspecting or desperate people once dumped  There is need for greater amalgamation of the separators to enable them, to more easily access markets and advocate for their plight  There is need to train the separators on alternative livelihood skills to avoid overdependence on the dumpsite  There is need for better regulations to control dumpsite activities to avoid exploitation
  14. 14. 14  There is need for coming up with ways of harvesting the gases emitted from the dumpsite to avoid fires and boost efficiency  There is need for greater government investment in waste management activity  Need to arrest waste management problems at the earliest point of generation e.g. encouraging separation at point of source  Need for exchange programs with successful cities as appertains to waste management and other smaller towns risking similar situations in future  Need for more inclusive approach in waste management and related policy formulation  Need to provide separators with financial support to ensure they invest in value addition to the waste they collect  Need to improve accessibility to the dumpsite to ensure better dumping of wastes  Need to institute polluter pays principles and emission trading schemes to deal with wastes and create incentive for waste management technology  Need to boost enforcement of regulations related to waste management  Need for a more integrated approach in waste management  Decentralization of waste management to ensure greater involvement of other stakeholders and communities  Need for coming up with ways of decoupling local politics from waste management or at least reducing political interference  Need to put in place measures to avoid corruption and kill the existing cartels  Need to provide good office infrastructure and equipment to help in management CONCLUSION
  15. 15. 15 The Dandora dumpsite continues to pose great threats to humanity. This is due to the fact that that the dumpsite has outlived its lifespan and overpassed its capacity. The activities in the dumpsite are not effective or efficient in dealing with the high amount of waste generated by in its source area. Attempts to address the situation continue to hit dead ends despite the many existing opportunities and developed plans. Despite the many challenges that abound an alternative site needs to be urgently identified and modern recycling methods put into use. The plight of the separators operating at the dumpsite also needs to be addressed to ensure that solutions adopted don’t marginalize them and negate their great dependency on this malpractice. The participation of the people in the process of better waste management is also imperative

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