, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – A group of non-governmental organisations under the banner Safer Nairobi Coalition have called on President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to personally coordinate efforts to relocate the Dandora dumping site.
Campaign Coordinator Fr John Webootsa said on Sunday that the two principals should set up an interministerial taskforce or take other appropriate measures to get a solution to the stinking problem.
“The Ministry of environment is doing something, ministry of local government, City Council of Nairobi, UNEP and studies have been done by JICA and other agencies. There are efforts’ going on but our worry is that these efforts are not coordinated,” Fr Webootsa said.
“The Dumpsite is big business for a few people and on one hand millions are being generated from the Dandora dumpsite but on the other millions of people are dying which is very unfair,” he said.
Addressing a press conference, Fr Webootsa said it was worrying that for all the years the dumpsite had been termed as a health hazard, nothing much had been done to clear it.
He expressed fears that if the efforts being made went uncoordinated, they would lead to duplication and possible institutional conflicts among different government actors.
He said about 900,000 people living in Dandora and neighbouring estates were affected by the dumpsite.
“We are expecting to have a sitting with the President and Prime Minister but it will depend on when they are ready to meet us because we have already forwarded to them a request,” he said.
A Korogocho elder, John Okello, said there was need for immediate measures to be taken to contain toxic fumes in the Dandora dumping site while preparing a new landfill.
“We believe it is an issue of human rights and national development which the government should prioritise and plan for. Political interference as well as bureaucratic or coordination issues should not slow down or paralyse noble efforts,” he said.
Mr Okello said the Dandora dumping site which occupies about 30 acres of land needed full decommissioning to prevent dangerous substances from affecting people.
“A proper waste management system is an investment in the future of Kenya and will be able to sustain itself if properly managed,” he said.
A 2007 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicated that the dumping site caused irreversible damage to the immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems and half of the children tested during the research had concentrations of lead in their blood exceeding internationally accepted levels and would not live to be more than 50 years old.