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Choking on waste, Kenya finds hope in recycling

At Dandora, a dumpsite in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the acrid tang of burning plastic hangs heavy in the air.

Towering mountains of assorted waste, from plastic bottles and metal cans to overflowing bags of organic matter, dominate the landscape, stretching as far as the eye can see.

The area serves as a symbol of Kenya's burgeoning waste crisis, a formidable challenge that equally bustling cities like Nairobi also face, along with peri-urban towns and villages in the country.

According to the chief executive officer of the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), Joseph Murabula, this burden has taken the form of a staggering "3,000 to 4,000 tons of waste produced daily."

This immense volume, coupled with a national infrastructure deficit hindering proper disposal, recycling, and treatment facilities, has created a concerning situation, says Murabula.

“The bulk of the waste is in the urban centers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru and Kisumu, but about half of the 3,000 to 4,000 tons of daily waste is actually in Nairobi,” he added.

Inadequate waste management contributes significantly to health crises and environmental degradation in the East African nation, polluting land and water resources.

Communities living near overflowing landfills like Dandora bear the brunt of the problem, exposed to harmful toxins and a resulting increased risk of respiratory illness.

But, according to Murabula, people are now "seeing opportunities around the waste management sector."

"The market opportunity in Kenya is about $54 billion," he said.


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