Dandora school fights foul smell from dumpsite with bamboos

Alfred Nyairo,  Environment club patron at Dandora Secondary, applies mulch to a tree as school’s principal Eutychus Thiong’o looks on on January 24. 


What you need to know:

  • Dandora holds about 1.8 million tonnes of garbage against a 500,000 tonne capacity.
  • Dandora Secondary School with about 2,000 students is located next to the biggest dumpsite in Africa.

The foul smell and flies from the sprawling Dandora dumpsite are permanent visitors at Dandora Secondary School. But soon, the unwanted visitors from Nairobi's massive dumpsite the size of 20 football pitches, will be reduced

Dandora Secondary students are hoping that by planting bamboo trees along the perimeter wall of the institution, the bad smell will be contained.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the bamboo plant is one of the best air purifying plants to help improve air quality.

The plant is an all-year-rounder and requires little maintenance as it is watered once every 10 days. Bamboos will form a buffer fence all around the school perimeter walls.

The school principal, Eutychus Thiong’o says environmental champions at the school have vowed to tackle the challenges posed by the dumpsite to the school. “This dumpsite is exposing the school fraternity to respiratory infections,” says Mr Thiong’o.

According to Nairobi County Environment department, the city generates 3,000 metric tonnes of garbage that ends at Dandora dumpsite. Dandora holds about 1.8 million tonnes of garbage against a 500,000 tonne capacity. Dandora Secondary School with about 2,000 students is located next to the biggest dumpsite in Africa.

The bad smell blown up by the wind from the Dandora dumpsite has been a great concern that has forced environmentalists and school administration to come together to eradicate it through tree planting initiatives.

“I did some research with my environment patron and we found out that a buffer fence of bamboo trees can mitigate the effects of the bad smell from the dumpsite. We have grown a fence of giant bamboos because we found out that they have the highest purifying effect on polluted air,” adds Mr Thiong’o.

The school principal says the buffer fence will create a conducive learning environment for the students.

He is optimistic that the school will address the challenge of bad smell when the 150 bamboo trees are fully grown. The school has an environmental club consisting of 42 students who have been trained to take care of the trees.

Alfred Nyairo, a teacher who is also thr patron of the environment club, says members of the club have been exposed to fresh air in different forests and are now working towards having their own forest within their school. “Last year there was a severe drought and the students were watering these trees. We’ve seen a lot of determination and goodwill from them,” says Mr Nyairo.

The institution’s compound is fertile and retains a lot of water as evidenced by the settled water in the school field from the recent heavy rainfalls.

This makes the area water-logged and boosts the growing speed of trees and grass. The school currently prides in having planted over 2,700 trees.

With the huge space, the school relies on partners to donate seedlings to them.

Their efforts have been rewarded after East African Cables donated 700 tree seedlings. “We have planted over 1,000 fruit trees in the last year, but the biggest challenge has been sourcing the seeds for fruit trees,” says Joyce Mbugua, head of the procurement and logistics department at East African Cables.

The firm has a tree nursery holding about 5,000 tree seedlings that it donates to schools and police stations within Kajiado, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kirinyaga, and Embu counties.

Ms Mbugua says in the last two years that the nursery has existed, the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company has donated over 11,000 seedlings.