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Donkey meat firm on the spot for poor waste disposal

By Caroline Chebet | Updated Fri, April 21st 2017 at 00:15 GMT +3

Work going on in the slaughterhouse. [Joseph Kipsang]

A 50-kilometre drive from Nakuru towards Mogotio in Baringo leads to the sleepy Chemogoch village, the home of Kenya's first operational donkey slaughterhouse.

One cannot miss it. The Chinese-owned Goldox abattoir stands out because of the numerous birds of prey that hover over the slaughterhouse as well as the foul smell that wafts across several villages.

At Chemogoch village, where the slaughterhouse sits, the appalling smell lingers almost the entire day.

Other directions

The residents get relief only when the wind is strong enough to blow it in a different direction. And that is the time they can eat.

The residents have for a year complained that the company not disposing of its waste as it is legally required to, thereby attracting birds of prey such as vultures and marabou storks as well as dogs.

"The smell is worse when it rains. We have even forgotten the smell of fresh air because we are used to the foul smell. We have changed meal times to try to avoid the bad smell while eating," Harrison Tanui, a resident of Chemogoch village said.

Mr Tanui said residents take their meals at around 4 pm when the wind changes direction and blows the foul smell to other villages.

Hosting visitors has become impossible.

"We know no peace here since we cannot even have parties the way we used to. Before the company started operating, we used to host parties. Now we don't get any visitors, not even our neighbours, who share the same problems," Tanui said.

Most of the villagers declined to speak to the Standard team, saying the company has employed many of the residents, who earn their livelihoods from the slaughterhouse and feared 'bad-mouthing' the firm that feeds them.

The few who volunteered to speak out said they believed that it was their right to have access to a clean environment and that they felt the situation should be addressed.

"We do not have any trouble with the company because it feeds us. The least paid casual worker takes home Sh400 a day. We have adjusted to the smell and we are very grateful to the company," a man who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

However, Mr Cheboror Kelvin said the residents risked contracting disease.

"Since they dispose of the waste poorly, dogs flock the area to eat and at times we wake up to the sight of donkey remains on our doorsteps," Cheboror said.

According to a medical doctor, Ronny Kibet, there is a high risk of the residents contracting infections and zoonotic diseases, which are infectious illnesses transmitted from animals to humans.

"Slaughterhouses should have proper ways of disposing of waste because people can be in direct contact with the carcasses. This can encourage zoonotic diseases and other infections. Abattoirs should consider installing incinerators," said Dr Kibet.

He added that continuous inhalation of foul smell causes respiratory problems.

An official with the Baringo County government who did not want to be named said the company had been warned about the hygiene of running the slaughterhouse.

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