Solid waste management policies in Kenya: coherence, gaps and overlaps

Waste generation has been increasing in Kenya in accordance with rapid urbanization. The amount of solid waste generated per year is currently 4 million tonnes, and is predicted to double by 2030.

Nevertheless, this rise has not necessarily been followed by an “increase in the capacity of the relevant urban authorities to deal with this challenge of Solid Waste Management (SWM)” (p :3). In Nairobi for instance, about half (1500 tones/day) of the solid waste produced is not being collected.

According to a working paper published by the Urban Ark institute, this deficit is mainly due to a lack of articulation of policy strategies and major gaps in implementation mechanisms.

Three researchers from the African Population and Health Research Center, Nairobi, recently investigated the different levels of integration of SWM in Kenya, and how these policies particularly address health issues among urban populations in Nairobi and Mombasa. They however do not look at the social dynamics of solid waste management.

The authors argue that there are relatively good SWM provisions in place in the country. In terms of macro-level integration for instance, the authors note that the National Environment Policy, which outlines responsibilities for the government, is well integrated with the National Solid Waste Management strategy, which is more like a platform for action between stakeholders.

Besides, generic Acts are now complemented with more specific ones. To put in another way, SWM policies are relatively well integrated into other key policies such as building codes and physical planning. They are also more and more decentralized. The authors argue in this respect that SWM roles converge better at the local government level. They explain this lesser integration at the national level is due to the lack of a coordinating mechanism for the implementation of SWM policies.

From a historical perspective, the same authors note in a different paper that this integration was made possible thanks to a “magnificent shift from focusing criminalizing offenses to promoting good practices” (p:2). Still, solid waste is still very much considered as a problem rather than a resource to be recycled or re-used. Moreover, SWM policies are still mainly designed to cope with environmental issues, but hardly incorporate the economic and the health perspective of solid waste management principles.

Paper available online from IIED.

Photo: Truck collecting trash in Kibera, Nairobi. Ninara (flickr).



Publication Type Policy paper
Publisher Urban Ark institute
Year 2016
Author(s) Tilahun Nigatu Haregu, Abdhalah K. Ziraba, Blessing Mberu
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One Response to “Solid waste management policies in Kenya: coherence, gaps and overlaps”

  1. Imran

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