Improving Solid Waste Management Practices to Reduce Health Risks in Nairobi and Mombasa

Mberu, B. & Chege, M.
Publication language
Date published
01 Jun 2018
Research, reports and studies
Health, Urban, Urban design/planning

Globally, urbanization is associated with increased generation of solid waste. City authorities have struggled to provide adequate waste management services, especially in developing countries. Kenya is no exception to this trend. Approximately 50% of solid waste generated daily in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, is not collected which translates into widespread unsafe disposal. Poor solid waste management (SWM) is known to have negative health impacts including proliferation of infectious and non-communicable diseases. It also contributes to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) undertook a three-year project to better understand the health and environmental impacts of poor solid waste management in Kenya. The study conducted in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa revealed high variability in SWM practices, from storage to collection, transport and disposal. Residents of both cities who participated in the study also reported high levels of awareness about health risks associated with poor solid waste management. Diarrheal diseases, respiratory conditions, malaria and allergies were the most commonly reported illnesses associated with exposure to poor solid waste management. Measures that city authorities can take to reduce health and environmental risks from poor solid waste management include: 

  • Adoption of health- and environmentally-friendly waste disposal practices 
  • Encourage higher uptake of waste reduction, reuse and recycling 
  • Strengthen coordination and regulation of community and private sector players