Kenya: the health risks of the Dandora landfill Kenya: the health risks of the Dandora landfill

Kenya: the health risks of the Dandora landfill

Kenya: the health risks of the Dandora landfill  The Dandora landfill is one of the largest in the Kenyan capital. Here, every day, thousands of women of all ages work in the middle of the garbage, without any protection. They are looking for objects, especially recyclable materials, which they can then resell to feed their families. An activity that is not without consequences on their health.  “We usually search for plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, canvas bags, bones and food for the pigs. We do this without protective gloves or rubber boots, so we sometimes cut ourselves with glass. We really suffer", explains Mariam Makeba.  "Sometimes you may lose your pregnancy unexpectedly. But when you change your environment, you may have a successful pregnancy. However, when you try to change your environment, there may be a lack of labor opportunities and that the children are hungry - we have no choice but to come back", explains Winfred Wanjira.  In 2007, the United Nations Environment Program warned that the landfill posed serious health risks to people working and living nearby. But this does not seem to discourage these women, who for the most part have no other means of support.  "I usually have my period every three months and yet I don't take contraceptives. However, at some point I had a head injury and had to change my environment for three months - I also had my period during those three months,” says Joyce Wangari.  In a report, the UN indicates that the Dandora landfill is responsible for environmental pollution that causes skin problems, or even respiratory abnormalities. Heavy metals in high concentrations, which are found here, are believed to cause cancer.  "Lead and mercury are heavy metals and most of the time women who work in landfills inhale and ingest these heavy metals at the same time. It does not only affect reproductive health. Most of these women end up have cancer. Don't forget that mercury is one of the main metals associated with cancer. Lead as well", explains Jacqueline Naulikha, nurse.  Despite the fact that a court ordered the closure of the landfill in July 2021, because of health risks, it continues to operate.

The Dandora landfill is one of the largest in the Kenyan capital. Here, every day, thousands of women of all ages work in the middle of the garbage, without any protection. They are looking for objects, especially recyclable materials, which they can then resell to feed their families. An activity that is not without consequences on their health.

“We usually search for plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, canvas bags, bones and food for the pigs. We do this without protective gloves or rubber boots, so we sometimes cut ourselves with glass. We really suffer", explains Mariam Makeba.

"Sometimes you may lose your pregnancy unexpectedly. But when you change your environment, you may have a successful pregnancy. However, when you try to change your environment, there may be a lack of labor opportunities and that the children are hungry - we have no choice but to come back", explains Winfred Wanjira.

In 2007, the United Nations Environment Program warned that the landfill posed serious health risks to people working and living nearby. But this does not seem to discourage these women, who for the most part have no other means of support.

"I usually have my period every three months and yet I don't take contraceptives. However, at some point I had a head injury and had to change my environment for three months - I also had my period during those three months,” says Joyce Wangari.

In a report, the UN indicates that the Dandora landfill is responsible for environmental pollution that causes skin problems, or even respiratory abnormalities. Heavy metals in high concentrations, which are found here, are believed to cause cancer.

"Lead and mercury are heavy metals and most of the time women who work in landfills inhale and ingest these heavy metals at the same time. It does not only affect reproductive health. Most of these women end up have cancer. Don't forget that mercury is one of the main metals associated with cancer. Lead as well", explains Jacqueline Naulikha, nurse.

Despite the fact that a court ordered the closure of the landfill in July 2021, because of health risks, it continues to operate.

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