April 25 2014

1,500 Tons of Waste Goes Uncollected in Nairobi, Kenya Each Day

One of the first pledges made by the first Governor of Nairobi upon assuming office was that of cleaning up the city. Years of neglecting solid waste management had seen the city cease from being a “green city in the sun.”

Increased urban growth, poor urban planning and years of mismanagement by the now defunct city council saw high levels of garbage accumulation. Unlike the past, where the council would provide residents with dustbins and collect garbage on designated days, the service was left to the free market and residents began paying private operators to collect their garbage. For those in the middle and upper classes, it worked and still does work well, but not so in the working-class areas and informal settlements. In some of the working-class neighborhoods, cartels are in control and at times have turned violent as they control their “territories.

Those in informal settlements cannot afford private collectors and lack of wide access roads always challenged the council from providing the service.

Vehicle of a Private Garbage Collector in Nairobi, Kenya

Recent efforts by the county government has seen the purchase of several garbage trucks to boost garbage collection. They have also gone ahead to set clear regulations on the conditions for private firms that are collecting garbage from the central business district.

Nairobi generates over 3,000 tons of waste per day and only about half of it gets collected. Most of the collected waste is dumped at Dandora Landfill. The landfill is filled beyond capacity but still in use. There is also a temporary dumping site at Kayole.

In 2009, the City opened its first e-waste management site, to take care of electronic waste for recycling. In late 2013, the county government got into a contract with a German company to initiate a programme that will use waste to generate renewable energy. In this system, over 4,000 homes can be powered with over seventy MW being generated per hour by a landfill gas to energy system.

The Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan for Nairobi was generated in 2010 and recognizes the importance of generating new landfills, investing in recycling (38% of the waste is recyclable), derivation of the value of organic waste fraction (51%) and involvement of both public and private partnerships.

New Wastebins in The Central Business District of Nairobi, Kenya

The challenge of sustainable solid waste management remains one key area in modern urban centres – and Nairobi is no exception.

What would be the best direction for urban residents to take with regard to solid waste management? Are the recent efforts being made to manage garbage enough for the City of Nairobi?

Credit: Images by Constant Cap. Data linked to sources.

Constant Cap

Constant Cap is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He holds an undergraduate degree from the same university. He regularly writes about urban planning issues online and in local dailies. Constant was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and is passionate about the planning issues facing African Cities. He has a deep interest in sustainable transportation and the application of ‘new urbanism’ in Africa. He intends to work as a planner on the African continent and assist in bringing about modern sustainable urbanism. He currently works at the Advancement Office at Strathmore University, Nairobi.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 25th, 2014 at 9:01 am and is filed under Constant Cap, Energy, Engineering, Environment, Land Use, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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3 Responses to “1,500 Tons of Waste Goes Uncollected in Nairobi, Kenya Each Day”

  1. Emmanuel M'M Says:

    It is a start. We can now see the city being cleaned. I think the issue is the 1,500 tonnes NOT being collected.

    I would engage those in the informal garbage collection industry and have them tasked with creating centres for recycling. That way the garbage goes through ‘sifting’ to render it a raw material in the process of wealth generation.

    Additionally, we need to go the route of Japan and start using the refuse as a fuel. What happened to the German company that was to set up a power plant? Red tape in my view

  2. Solid Waste Management Issues in neighboring Nairobi | Promoting ISSB in Namuwongo, Kampala, Uganda Says:

    […] Solid Waste Management Issues in neighboring Nairobi […]

  3. Constant Cap Says:

    The fuel project sounds interesting… lets see how it goes…

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