Dandora Dumpsite


One big to-do on my list still was to visit Dandora.

Dandora‘s dumpsite is the biggest in Kenya and even counts to one of the largest in the world. Despite being declared full by the Nairobi council in 2001, an estimated 2,000 tonnes of waste are still dumped here each day.

My guide here is known to everyone in the area simply as Uncle. He is a very ambitious Youth Leader, and on the day I visited, he organised three Youth Leaders to accompany us and make sure we stay out of trouble with any of the gangs controlling the site.

At around that time, Nairobi’s residents had been eagerly anticipating the seasonal rains, and the rainy season chose to arrive dramatically on the morning of my visit: as we were preparing to enter the dumpsite, it poured cats and dogs. So we decided to get ourselves some gumboots and raincoats first, before we finally stepped onto the massive hills of waste.

I thought Mombasa‘s dumpsite was a big one - until I saw Dandora. There was waste as far as the eye can see.

People living in the neighbouring slums are literally surrounded by waste, which is also what gives many local residents an income. Children start searching for food and valuable items on the dumpsite around the age of 10. Under incredibly health-damaging conditions, people rummage through the piles of waste, looking for materials they can sell to recycling companies.

As we reach the Nairobi River, which passes through the dumpsite, the boys joke around, saying „If you‘d throw a fish in there, it probably won‘t even survive for one minute“. At the same time I see women washing their clothes in the black water.

There have been attempts to close the dumpsite down, but not only does its relocation pose a problem, there is resistance from neighbouring residents as well. It may be a health hazard, but many families here see it as their only possibility to earn what income they can, to feed their children and pay school-fees.

In the meantime, Dandora continues to grow...


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