Solid waste generation reduces by half, counties yet to upgrade to sanitary landfills

A Kenya Railways cargo engine snails through a section of the Kibarani dumping site near the Makupa Couseway on the mainland side which is completely covered by solid waste materials in polythene bags which has been separated from the garbage after being dumped here by the County Government, August 03, 2018. [File, Standard]

The amount of garbage in the counties has reduced by almost 50 per cent since the ban on plastic bags last year.

A periodic report by the National Environmental Complaints Committee released on August 24 reveals a major improvement in waste generation after the ban.

“Generation of solid waste has reduced by over 50 per cent in almost all counties as a result of the plastic bags ban, which took effect on August 28, 2017. This proves that plastic bags contributed to almost 50 per cent of waste generated in towns daily,” states the report.

However, it notes that counties are yet to upgrade their dumping sites to sanitary landfills despite the ease in waste management.

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“Unfortunately, all counties are still operating on dumping sites, none has upgraded to sanitary landfills, partly because of challenges of acquiring land, funding and lack of technology to recycle or utilise waste.”

Recycle plastics

According to the committee, counties need to put in place initiatives to recycle plastics generated before the ban. The team also warned that plastic bags were still in circulation in some areas.

“The complaints on waste management are reducing on a daily basis. However, one of the challenges remains on the enforcement along the border points,” said committee secretary John Chumo.

He said the management of solid waste in the counties was still below par and had contributed to extensive pollution of water sources including Nairobi River, Athi River, Lake Nakuru, Sosiani River and Lake Victoria.

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“Poor management of generated waste has had more adverse effects especially on water sources, a situation that has spiralled cases of water-borne diseases in the counties,” he said.

The report revealed that the country was losing Sh27 billion annually in the treatment of water-borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea, which are common in areas with poor waste management.

Sanitary landfills

It noted that the counties were still grappling with little funding and lack of land for sanitary landfills as well as waste disposal technology.

“The on-going campaigns on the decommissioning of Kibarani dumpsite in Mombasa is a revelation of what majority of the counties are going through. As much as there are campaigns to decommission the dumpsite, the county is yet to secure alternative land to dump its waste,” the report read.

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It further revealed some towns including Kisumu, Busia, Kitale, Mandera, Kakamega and Eldoret still used plastic bags brought in from neighbouring countries.

“There is still a big challenge in compliance and enforcement of the law by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema). The authority seems to be overwhelmed,” the report stated.

According to the committee, the next environmental battle will be banning the use of plastic bottles.

“There is a concern on the extensive use of plastic bottles and we have continued to receive complaints as a result. The public, according to the letters we receive, feel the plastic bottle menace can be dealt with the same way plastic bags were."

The report indicates that there are discussions between the Ministry of Environment, Nema and the Kenya Association of Manufactures on taming the plastic bottle menace.

The team also recommended partnerships in solid waste management in the counties.

“The Government should seek partnerships with other countries and investors who have the technologies to help counties in recycling initiatives."

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