The County Government of Nakuru is forging partnerships with the private sector aimed at promoting investments in technologies that convert solid waste into fertilizer, energy and fuel.
Environment, Energy, Natural Resources and Climate Change Chief Officer Mr. Kennedy Barasa said that generation of power from waste has the potential of reducing environmental degradation and increasing employment opportunities.
Speaking when he led a team from the City Management Board on an assessment tour of the Gioto dumpsite in London Estate, Barasa observed that rapid urbanization, improved economic situation and industrialization had transformed solid waste management into one of the greatest challenges facing major urban centres in Kenya.
“This calls for Nakuru County to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Proper sanitation programmes including adequate landfill sites can help our devolved unit to improve the current state of solid waste management and save money. We must urgently exploit the energy potential stored in waste through major available waste-to-energy technologies and also put in place a strategic action plan for implementation of these technologies,” said the Chief Officer.
A number of investors, both local and international, have in the past approached the county government seeking to convert the waste into a profitable venture but most of them eventually go quiet.
The devolved unit has already embarked on rehabilitation of the 30-acre dumpsite and an earth embankment and buffer greenery foliage has been put up to prevent spillage of garbage onto the Nakuru-Kabarak road during the rainy seasons.
The Environment department has also demarcated the dumpsite into portions where recyclable and biodegradable garbage is dumped separately.
Barasa who was flanked by Nakuru City Board Manager Mr. Gitau Thabanja and Chief Officer for Urban Planning Mr. Kamau Kuria indicated that the County was in talks with various stakeholders on waste management and appropriate ways of transforming and rehabilitating the dumpsite.
He underscored the need of placing a special emphasis on the potential of conversion of waste into energy and fuel to bring positive change and wealth into communities.
The Chief Officer stated, “We need innovative technologies and approaches that change the way we think about, use and treat solid, liquid, domestic, industrial and commercial waste. Nakuru needs to explore the 5Rs of rethinking, refusing, reducing, reusing and recycling to transform waste to wealth.”
Lack of adequate waste management has resulted in excessive air, soil and water pollution, threatening public health, ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as accumulating immense quantities of waste in Nakuru’s Lakes and Rivers.
Barasa added that from innovating waste management through the 5Rs, Nakuru can resolve not only the challenge, but also create employment, promote economic growth, improve health and ecosystems – which in turn contributes to a happier, greener and healthier county – and can create enormous savings for the devolved unit.
“Sustainable waste management will contribute towards checking climate change. It has the capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. Waste can also be turned into useful raw materials that can make stationery, fabrics and other value-added products,” he said.
Mr. Thabanja said the county’s population was growing at a rate of between 7 to 10 percent per year, which translated into increased solid waste. He said the county has facilitated the formation of solid waste management associations which comprise private waste service actors to manage waste at the site.
The City Board manager clarified that electronic waste is not brought to the dumpsite since it is collected by other waste collectors at the source.
In his remarks, Mr. Kuria noted that the county stands to increase its revenue base and create more jobs besides improving health and sanitation to millions of the residents if the dumpsite is upgraded.
According to a feasibility study conducted by the World Bank in 2017, about 300 metric tonnes of solid waste is processed at the site per day. The dumpsite was established in 1974 and about 200 trucks drop waste there per day.
Previous regimes including the defunct municipal council grappled with the challenge of acquiring suitable land for Gioto dumpsite’s relocation. An average of 45 percent of waste goes uncollected in Nakuru, according to an official report by the National Environmental Complaints Committee.
According to the report, Nakuru city generates an estimated 6,000 tonnes of waste daily. However, only 3,962 tonnes are collected while over 2,000 tonnes remain uncollected. Eight five percent of waste generated in urban centres in Nakuru is from domestic homes.
By Jane Ngugi