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Together, we must protect rivers from pollutants

By The Standard | June 8th 2020

In marking World Environment Day last week, the Mombasa County government made a pledge to clean Mtopanga River.

Apparently, household waste dumped into the river is deposited into the Indian Ocean. Such large scale pollution contributes to the destruction of the ecosystem. Marine life is choking on plastic that ends up in the ocean.

However, in as much the county government’s pledge is welcome, it is not reassuring. The pollution of Mtopanga River is not an emergent problem, which means the county government shouldn’t have waited for the Environment Day to make its promise. County governments must be proactive to stay a step ahead.

The pollution of Mtopanga River is only one of many similar cases across the country. Over the years, citizens have decried the widespread pollution of rivers, in particular, Nairobi and Athi rivers. In 2008, Sh12 billion was allocated to clean Nairobi River. In and 2017 another Sh2.5 billion was allocated by Water Resources Management Authority to clean Athi and Nairobi rivers. Today, however, there is nothing to show that the noble mission was accomplished.

Effluent from factories, human waste and garbage continue to find their way into Nairobi River and large water bodies. In 2018, the Nairobi Human Waste Flow Diagram indicated 66 per cent of human waste in the capital city ends up in Nairobi River whose water is used to irrigate vegetables that end up on our tables exposing us to harmful metals. Families of modest means living along polluted rivers are exposed to serious health risks. Citizens and both levels of government must do the right thing to keep rivers clean.

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