By Sharon Atieno
Waste management especially in urban areas, continues to be a menace to the Kenyan government despite the Constitution enshrining the right to a clean and healthy environment for every person.
Kenya produces 4 million tons of waste annually with some waste not being accounted for because it is not collected. Statistical data from National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in the National Waste Management Strategy 2014 indicates that 37 percent of waste generated is not collected in Nakuru, 35 per cent in Mombasa and 45 per cent in Eldoret with Kisumu being unknown. The same report cites a study done in Nairobi that shows that 30-40 per cent of the waste produced is not collected.
Though the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), 1999, states that no person shall transport any waste other than to a wastes disposal site established in accordance with a license issue by the Authority, it is common to see waste by the road side, on the roads, in the rivers, near market places even in the central business districts. This waste combines the collected and uncollected.
Waste management is a resource that needs to be tapped in to, not only to clean the environment but also to create employment and drive the agricultural needs of our country. The use of composting machines will ensure food security as farmers will be able to access organic manure at cheaper prices.
Organic fertilizer has numerous benefits including improving the soil structure by increasing its water holding capacity, thus enabling plants to better utilize the nutrients in the soil. It is also rich in trace elements that cannot be replaced with chemical fertilizers. It stimulates healthy root condition among others.
Two companies have conceptualized this idea, and as a result they are turning waste in to compost which is then sold to local farmers. Taka Taka Solutions is a waste management enterprise that ventures into recycling waste and turning organic waste in to organic fertilizer. The company serves 12,000 households and collects 20 tonnes of waste daily which is then sorted and separated into organic and recyclable. The company charges each household about US$ 1 per month, part of which is used to pay its workers.
Environmental Conservation & Health (ECoH) Holdings working in partnership with a Malaysian company has developed a compost machine that converts solid food waste into compost within 24 hours and can be used in residential areas, restaurants and other commercial set ups.
The machines vary in sizes, with the largest converting up to 400 tons per day, think of what that can do for Nairobi which produces around 2000 tons per day with 57 per cent being food waste according to a 2008 statistics.
Being that most of the waste is domestically produced, increasing waste management within households is essential in solving the problem of solid waste. In light of this, ECoH works with real estate developers and supplies them with small composting machines for every household which gets rid of between 400grams to 1 kilogram of waste daily.
Though many policies have been formulated in order to get rid of solid waste, there is need for practical solutions which rid the country of this menace as early as now. The reduce, reuse and recycle strategy is a song that has become a broken record, with little or no effect. The compost machine is the best practicable solution at this moment as it is in line with the National Waste Management Strategy 2014, which highly recommends biological treatment of organic waste which is an environmentally sound technology and leads to the generation of useful products.