Nairobi solid waste management practices: Need for improved public participation and involvement

  • AA Ali
  • LO Gumbe
  • AH Mohammed
  • N Nathan


In the globalized world, the current focus in municipal waste management is on the development of sustainable and integrated waste management system, where the central role would be played by the public through
effective participation. The reason for this is that the traditional system of collection, transportation and dumping on land is being replaced with an often complex assortment of source separation, collection, transfer processing and landfill components due to its failure in the service delivery and environmental protection. The East African region is not an exception to this as the problem of illegal dumping of uncollected household waste is being witnessed in the major cities of the region including Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Nairobi. The public misconceptions, attitudes and behaviours have greatly contributed to this problem. This has led to increased pollution of ecological systems including water, soil, air, plants and other wildlife species. At a regional level, there is no privatization programme that has succeeded in eliminating the waste generation menace. In most cases, waste minimization strategies and goals are far from realization
due the absence of public participation and laxity to enforce the existing legislation. Resource recovery, recycling practices and diversion strategies have not picked up as required due to the inadequate capacity of the City Council of Nairobi and other government complementing departments. The proper management of solid waste has thus become one of the pressing and challenging environmental problems in the city in recent years. The objective of this paper is to present the significance of public perceptions, attitudes and behaviours in relation to the Nairobi households’ waste management practices. The research methodologies utilized consisted of the waste analysis, questionnaire survey and interviewing of  knowledgeable informants. The data from waste analysis has indicated increase in waste generation rate from 0.67kg/d/p (JICA 1998) to 0.85kg/d/p (Ali, 2007) representing over 20% increase in the last decade.
It is estimated that the household waste forms 61% of the total waste generated in the city. The roles of the private collectors including community-based organizations are becoming vital while the public
sector is expected to become a strong regulator rather than public services delivery. For example, today the Nairobi City Council collects 20%,
private collector 70%, and self-disposal 18% of the wastes generated in the Lavington residential area while no formal collection exists in the Kibera slums. The study also revealed that the present city waste management practices suffer from poor governance, inefficient scientific data, not in my backyard (NIMBY) syndrome, weak public participation and absence of public awareness. The paper argues for the need to have strong publicprivate partnership, community participation and capacity building to enhance effective awareness building, waste source separation and recycling as strategies for an improved waste management system.

Keywords: Waste generation, public-private partnership, community participation, capacity building, source separation, recycling, sustainability

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2408-8137
print ISSN: 2408-8129