Tag Archives: Landfill

Nairobi’s Garbage Dump Pits Pickers Against Neighbors

Source: David Conrad – Pulitzer Center Blog – May 14, 2012

Weighted with two heavy sacks of discarded milk bags and meat bones slung across her back, a plastic bag of rotted cabbage in her hand, Rahab Ruguru walks through a smoky landscape of mountainous piles of burning waste, scavenging for a living.

“Working here is how I am able to feed my children,” says the 42-year-old mother of six, stooping to pocket a handful of discarded candy from the ground. “Of course it is not a usual job. Dodging pigs [and] used condoms, eating what I find. No, it’s not good for me. But it is a job and I have to persevere.”

Rahab Ruguru, 42, a mother of six children—between the ages of four and 17—moved to a small home directly bordering Dandora after the country’s 2007 post-election violence forced her family from their Eldoret farm near the western border of Kenya. Image by Micah Albert. Kenya, 2012.

Ms. Ruguru is one of an estimated 6,000 people who come daily to mine the Dandora city dump, a sprawling 12-hectare wasteland about 15 kilometres from Nairobi’s thriving central business district. They sort and place into large sacks waste that can either be eaten or sold to recycling companies – mostly metals, rubber, glass, milk bags, plastics, meat bones and electronics. Nobody earns more than $2.50 (U.S.) a day.

Nearly one million people live in the slums that surround the dump, the only one serving the Kenyan capital. While the Dandora garbage dump provides a source of income for some – Ms. Ruguru, for instance, says her scavenged items bring her money for her children’s food, school fees, books and uniforms – it is at the centre of a political controversy.

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