The Nyeri Asian Quarters Dumpsite is a headache for county officials and an eyesore and health hazard the residents of Nyeri town.
The place is one of the largest garbage disposal sites in the county, with the garbage spilling over from its original boundaries to a playground and residential estates.
Every day at dawn, Sabina Kawira and Agnes Wambui scavenge through the mounds of garbage, foraging for waste food in the hope of collecting enough feed for their pigs.
The two women are among 20 families who depend on the dumpsite.
“People come and go but most of them end up staying here for years, raising their families and slowly expanding the settlement,” she says.
In 2010, Wambui started rearing pigs after seeing that large portions of vegetables and fruits were rotting away at the dumpsite.
Raise my children
“I used to collect plastic bottles and scrap metal for sale when I noticed the large amounts of food going to waste. It crossed my mind that pigs are the only animals that might eat the vegetables,” she says.
Wambui has since started keeping pigs, and some of her neighbours have followed suit.
Today, Wambui has at least eight pigs while her neighbour Kawira has 10 animals.
“I have been able to raise my children from the income I get from selling pigs; as long as I have at least four pigs a year, I have enough money to pay for food, clothing and school fees for my children,” says the mother of five.
Wambui’s son Jackson Kamotho, a Form Three student also owns a pig that recently gave birth to four piglets.
“The pigs are a good source of income, my mother has educated us by rearing them.
I want to follow in her footsteps and increase the number of pigs we can rear for sale,” he says.
Kawira also relies on the dumpsite to feed her pigs, which she too sells to support her family.
Farming pigs keeps my children off the streets. I know there have been plans to relocate the dumpsite, but I believe the issue is poor management of the site,” she says.
Kawira says the dumpsite should be managed and the garbage kept within its boundaries.
“There is garbage everywhere, which is why everyone is complaining. However, that is something that can be resolved with proper management,” she says.
However, as the families eke out a living from the dumpsite, over 100 Asian Quarters Residents Association members continue to lobby for the site’s relocation.
Pharis Mwangi, a resident of the Asian quarters has been at the fore in seeking to relocate the dumpsite.
Protesting for years
“We do not understand why the now defunct county council chose to turn the five-acre piece of land near our homes into a dumpsite considering it is in a residential area,” Mwangi says.
“We have been protesting for years; we even formed a neighbourhood association to articulate our issues, but there has been little response from the government.”
The county produces 38,000 tonnes of garbage but only 29,000 is collected by the Sanitation Department.
In an annual development plan for the financial year 2018/19 that was tabled in the County Assembly, the executive proposed acquisition of a piece land for relocation of the dumpsite at a cost of Sh30 million.