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Tackling e-waste in Kenya: A pressing environmental challenge

Amid the rapid progress of technological advancements in Kenya, there is a lurking environmental crisis that demands urgent attention: electronic waste, commonly known as e-waste.

E-waste encompasses a wide range of discarded electronic devices, such as mobile phones, computers, televisions, and other electronic equipment.

These gadgets contain toxic materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium, which, if improperly disposed of, can contaminate soil, water sources, and the air, posing significant health risks to communities living in close proximity to e-waste dumping sites.

Kenya, like many other developing nations, has become a prime destination for illegal imports of e-waste due to its relatively lax regulations, lower recycling costs, and the absence of stringent enforcement mechanisms.

The government must prioritise the development and implementation of robust policies and regulations to effectively manage e-waste, ensuring that producers, consumers, and recyclers share the responsibility of its proper disposal.

One crucial step is to establish a comprehensive e-waste management framework that focuses on three key aspects: prevention, reuse, and recycling.

By encouraging manufacturers to design products with a longer lifespan and greater recyclability, Kenya can reduce the overall generation of e-waste.

The government should also collaborate with local and international stakeholders to establish recycling centers equipped with appropriate technologies for safe e-waste dismantling, material reovery, and disposal.

To ensure compliance with these measures, strict enforcement and monitoring mechanisms must be put in place. Regular inspections of e-waste recycling facilities, increased penalties for illegal e-waste dumping, and public awareness campaigns can contribute to a culture of accountability and responsible electronic waste management.

It is equally crucial for the Kenyan public to actively participate in combating this crisis. Citizens should be educated about the dangers of improper e-waste disposal and encouraged to adopt sustainable practices, such as recycling electronic devices through authorised channels.

Additionally, promoting the establishment of e-waste collection points across the country can facilitate the safe and convenient disposal of electronic waste.

Mr Oloo is an ICT officer at Ecobank Kenya

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