Dandora dumpsite

People collect recyclable materials from the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi on December 9, 2020.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Court orders NMS, Nema to close Dandora dumpsite

What you need to know:

  • Justice Kossy Bor directed Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and environment watchdog Nema to establish a new dumpsite and ensure the new landfill is environmentally friendly.

The Environment and Land Court yesterday ordered the Dandora dumpsite closed within six months and the government to develop a plan for cleaning up the Nairobi and Athi rivers.

Justice Kossy Bor directed Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and environment watchdog Nema to establish a new dumpsite and ensure the new landfill is environmentally friendly.

The Dandora dumpsite covers over 30 acres and residents of Korogocho, Baba Dogo, Mathare and Dandora eke out a living from scavenging in the waste, exposing themselves to health risks.

Photo gallery: Dandora Dumpsite

It filled up in 2001 and efforts to shut it down have always failed.

“The Nairobi Metropolitan Services is directed to take steps to decommission the Dandora dumpsite and relocate it to another site within six months of the date of this judgment,” the judge said.

After shutting down the site, she directed, NMS should embark on rehabilitating it.

“In the intervening period, the NMS will take all practical steps to ensure that the waste in the Dandora dumpsite is managed in a manner which protects human health and the environment against adverse effects from the waste,” she said.

NMS must also ensure that no plastics or other waste is burnt at the site.

Recycling strategies

In establishing a new landfill for safe disposal of waste from Nairobi, Justice Bor ordered, NMS and Nema should work to reduce waste, separate biodegradable trash from organic garbage and prioritise the implementation of recycling strategies.

The judge made the decision in a case filed by residents of Korogocho, who argued that they have the right to a clean environment.

The residents, through their officials Isaiah Luyara Odando and Wilson Yatta, said the Nairobi River received improperly treated or untreated effluent from the Dandora sewage treatment plant.

The polluted water and raw sewage, they said, is used for irrigation downstream, which exposes consumers of food products to health hazards.

They accused NMS and Nema of violating their rights and sought orders to compel the authorities to adopt measures to stop pollution of the Nairobi and Athi rivers and permanently restore them.

The residents called for polluting entities to be shut down and industries to treat waste before disposing of it into the rivers.

They had also sought an order for the removal of 4,000 illegal structures encroaching on riparian land and the building of embankments and barriers to allow the rivers to flow free from contamination.

Heavy pollution

Justice Bor said that Nema and NMS will, within 30 days, identify materials and processes that are dangerous to the environment and human health in relation to the people living in Nairobi, and specifically Korogocho, Mukuru and areas surrounding the Dandora dumpsite.

They had sued NMS, Nema, the Cabinet secretary for Environment and the Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kilifi, Makueni and Tana River county governments.

They complained that the Dandora dumpsite is filled with smoke from the burning of plastic waste, which releases toxic and carcinogenic gases into the atmosphere, increasing the risk of respiratory diseases for people living in Korogocho, Kariobangi and Lucky Summer.

They cited an investigative report by the Nation (“Toxic Flow”) on the pollution of rivers from the Ondiri springs in Kikuyu all the way to Sabaki in Malindi.

The Story of the river of death - Dandora Dumpsite

Mr Odando testified that the report showed how the river carries unacceptable toxic levels of lead, copper, cyanide and ammonia, which have caused a surge in cancer and respiratory diseases.

The sued entities will file reports in court every four months showing the quality of samples of water taken from a minimum of twelve different points in the Nairobi and Athi rivers, including samples from the counties that the rivers pass through.


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