Africa Kenya: Rubbish dump scavengers photo essay

Dandora rubbish dump scavengers

There’s a photo essay on BBC NEWS about Kenya’s rubbish dump scavengers. It gives an insight into the lives of people whose livelihood relies on the vast 30 acre Dandora rubbish dump  on the outskirts of Nairobi which receives 2,000 tonnes of rubbish a day. This is a scene which is played out all over Africa and the personal tales in this essay seem typical. There is no primary sorting of waste and waste of every kind, even toxic waste, is dumped on huge sites usually on the outskirts of towns.

In the essay prominence is given to the washing and recycling of plastic bags and sacks. These bags are washed in the river, dried in the sun and then re-used. One problem is that the river itself is highly polluted, so potential food bags are washed in polluted river water and then re-sold. What’s to be done? In Kenya the government has proposed re-siting the rubbish dump. This is opposed by the scavengers who want the government to give them grants to start small businesses to replace their income from scavenging. As always solutions are complex not simple.

View the full essay

Suggested Books

  • Kenyan rubbish dump offers little money for much misery | Clar Ni Chonghaile (

Post navigation