Let's not turn a blind eye on Dandora's voiceless residents

A bulldozer moves waste at the Dandora dumpsite. [File, Standard]

Behind Nairobi’s sprawling metropolitan area is a growing mass that screams the failure of governance and a testament to how the marginalised are being mistreated.

Dandora dump site, within the heart of one of Nairobi's largest slums, is an example of the environmental injustice resulting from a cycle of negligence, poverty, health hazards, and ignorance and unwillingness from residents.

Back in the '80s and '90s, the residents of Dandora began accepting the city's garbage, and as a result, their neighbourhood became a convenient solution for waste disposal in the city. But no one could imagine the extent and the consequences being felt today.

What began as a small dumpsite adjacent to Dandora’s Phase II grew to almost half the size of the slum, which has seen many abandoning their owned homes, schools, churches and land. In some dire cases, some have died due to respiratory diseases caused by the filth in the air they breathe or the insecurity the dumping site brought along.

At the moment, people who have constructed housing, both residential and commercial, churches, businesses, and even roads in certain areas like Phase IV have no choice but to leave since the waste is very close to their homes.

The annoying situation is so bad that the area's police station (Kinyago Police Station) was forced to fence the station as the threats increased, baffling residents.

What amplifies the situation is the indifference and total disregard for the people’s rights and welfare. To justify them taking the pieces of land and business on which they depended for an extended dumping site, who will pay them?

Despite the promises from both county and national governments on resettlement and closure, the dumping operation still functions. And this trend will only expand as it gets deeper into the slum. However, only a few individuals are benefitting from it.

Dandora’s story is an epitome of the fact that society, the economy, and the environment are closely interlinked and it is crucial to address all these issues comprehensively.

As we strive towards a more just and sustainable world, let's not forget the voiceless in Dandora who are at the mercy of those destroying their neighbourhood. What will the area be tomorrow if we turn a blind eye today?

- Amondi Aroko, practising journalist, media analyst and environmental activist