Solid Waste Management is a major problem world-over and in Kenya offers several challenges from clogged drainage and sewers, waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea, increased upper respiratory diseases from open burning of the garbage to malaria. Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) also called sustainable solid waste management is a new concept of dealing with waste which is gaining currency in Kenya. Waste management has been the responsibility of local authorities but the scenario is changing with the realization that local authorities on their own are not capable of managing waste. Like other cities in the world, solid waste management is an expensive venture gobbling up to 30 to 50% of revenues. This is unsustainable and Kenyan cities and towns end up with endless heaps of garbage dotting the landscape.
ISWM (Integrated Solid Waste Management)
ISWM is a comprehensive waste prevention, recycling, composting, and disposal program. An effective ISWM system considers how to prevent, recycle, and manage solid waste in ways that most effectively protect human health and the environment. ISWM involves evaluating local needs and conditions, and then selecting and combining the most appropriate waste management activities for those conditions. The major ISWM activities are waste prevention, recycling and composting, and combustion and disposal in properly designed, constructed, and managed landfills. Each of these activities requires careful planning, financing, collection, and transport.
The ministry of local government is in the process of developing a national solid waste management policy. Many local authorities has followed suit and have localised the best practices in their various by-laws and other policy frameworks. These include the major towns of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru.
- NAIROBI - According to a recent survey by UNEP, Nairobi with a population of 4.0 million generates 3,200 tons of waste daily. Only 850 tons reach Dandora dumpsite with the rest remaining unaccounted. To stem the problem, Nairobi with help of both JICA and UNEP has developed a ten year Solid Waste Management Plan which the City Council of Nairobi plans to implement. This will involve urgent decommissioning of the Dandora dumpsite and building of sanitary landfill at Ruai in addition to two transfer stations. A further strategy involves building public-private-partnerships (PPP) including the use of community based organisations (CBOs).
- MOMBASA - According to a recent study done by the Mombasa Integrated Solid Waste Management Project, Mombasa coastal town which is the second largest city after Nairobi with a population of 800,000 produces 750 tons of waste daily. Only a small portion of this is collected for safe disposal at the Mwakirunge dumpsite, the rest ending up in illegal dumpsites. The study was funded by Community Development Trust Fund - Community Environment Facility (CDTF - CEF) with funds from the Government of Kenya and DANIDA with oversight of Destiny Africa as the Strategic Partner. The project has its main component in community waste based enterprises whereby several youth and women community based organisations (CBOs) have joined to convert their garbage collection ventures in livelihood strengthening commercial enterprises. They have started composting the municipal waste into organic fertiliser encouraging organic farming, recycling plastics and making charcoal briquettes thus providing alternative cheap energy source. A multi-million waste recovery and recycling plant is under contruction in Jomvu Kuu area of Changamwe on a four acre plot donated by the Government. The Municipal Council of Mombasa (MCM) together with the Ministry of Local government is currently implementing an AFD (French Government) project that will see the infrastructure improved and development of a sanitary landfill and transfer station.
- KISUMU - The third largest lakeside millennium city generates 400 tons daily and has no dumping site. With funding from UN-Habitat, the city is seeking solutions to its waste menace through development of a solid waste masterplan. A dumping site outside the town is an urgent focus.
- NAKURU - This tourist town lying in the Great Rift Valley is known as the home of flamingoes and has been a trail-blazer in solid waste management. For many years it remained the cleanest town in Kenya finally being the first to develop an environmental by-law and embracing community based organisations in solid waste management. Nawacom, a community based cooperative currently composts municipal waste to produce its Mazingira organic fertiliser which nevertheless is yet to surmount the marketing bottlenecks. The Nakuru Municipal Council together with the Ministry of local Government is implementing an AFD (French Government) project to improve infrastructure and develop a sanitary landfill.
Recycling (Plastics, Composting)
Kenya has embraced the 3R, Reduce, Recover and Recycle concept of solid waste management and several individuals and youth groups have started plastics recycling and composting projects that have won international accolades. These include the composting initiative of city garbage recyclers that saw Andrew Macharia become an Ashoka fellow and Destiny Africa’s Green Africa plastics recycling that won the SEED Initiative Award in 2009.
- Plastics Recycling - The consumption of plastics in the country has increased with 4,000 tonnes of polythene bags called flimsies. Together with hard plastics, this ends scattered in the environment creating an eyesore what is referred as plastics menace. Plastics recycling addresses the plastics menace in Kenya where the various plastics are collected by youth and women for sale to plastics recyclers. This has created employment for over 200,000 across the country.
- Composting - Some youth groups are carrying out composting of municipal waste in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru helping address the management of waste in the towns and creating green jobs as advocated by Unep. Windrows method is in applied but lack of suitable land for composting is a major hindrance. However, acceptance of composting by the towns and recognition of the CBOs is likely to turn their fortunes for the better.
Cows to kilowatts (Abattoir Waste Management)
Slaughterhouses are major polluters to the environment and especially rivers due to release of effluents. Waste includes paunch, blood, hair, bones, hooves and horns. Most slaughterhouses have not adopted modern technologies of dealing with the waste. Recent clampdown by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has forced them into drawing boards with some adopting what is popularly called Cows to Kilowatts. This involves set-up of biogas digesters with the biogas being combusted and converted to electricity. Two slaughterhouses at Dagoretti Market in the outskirts of Nairobi have become leaders by adopting the technology.