Life around the Dandora 30 acre dump site is just a picture of what happens around other dump sites in the cities and major towns in Kenya. Dawn brings a lot of hope to the pickers whose survival solely depends on whatever they collect day in, day out.the meal of the day is also assured with the visit and sight of any edible thing at the site.
The work of pickers starts as early as 5.00am till sundown. Scrambling for food together with the pigs is a common phenomena. Women together with other pickers use makeshift collection bags, rakes to sort the solid waste into the most desired commodities by the recycling companies. Metal, rubber, milk bags, plastics, bones and electronics tend to be among the most sought-after material. while sorting and putting in the large collection bags, women and other pickers are exposed to bad smell, sharp objects, acids, and other chemicals every day as they go about collecting the most valuable items. As this goes on year in year out, it is sad to note that Women are among the pickers who exist at the periphery of the economy, acting as an informal chain of middle persons working in horrific conditions doing the dirty work for the recycling companies. Once collected, community buyers then purchase poor women’s day’s work at a nearby weigh station, eventually selling more material to truck drivers who are pad upon delivery by recycling companies. The pickers among them women do this in order to survive in the city. Helpless as they may seem, poverty pushes them to go to this site and many other dump sites to earn a living. This exposes them to many other risks like skin and chest infections.
to the poor women, the dump site is their only hope since it assures them of food-which they can pick and eat, food for their children, and more that $ 2.5 per day. what is two and half dollars a day in the present Kenya with high inflation? you will agree with me that this can't put a day's meal on the table(breakfast, lunch, supper).
As i critically look at this scenario, i am left with two things; one is the short-term remedy for the needs of the poor women (not a better option), and secondly, the high risks women and their families are exposed to every day in the city. There is need to re-look at the poverty situation in the slum areas especially among the women at the dump sites. it is also important to consider the package recycling companies give to this women so that they can get their fair share without exploitation. at the same time, this is an environmental issue and the city of Nairobi administration needs to re-look at how solid waste should be disposed off and if at all they allow recycle companies through the poor people among them women, to go about collection of what they need in the factories . Better still, if the economy of the Kenyan government is growing, measures have to be put in place to ensure that it trickles down to the poor women who scavenge for food and other valuables at the dump site. it is costly venture for women to have this life that depends on materials needed for recycle companies. the lives of those who resided around the dump site is at risk of skin infections, chest infections and mind you, long term complications that will be seen many years to come,.