Crime and conflict in waste management portends great public health risk for the city due to effects on proper waste collection and disposal calling on city authorities to take control of the sector.

For the attention of: Local and county government administrations, Ministries of Environment and Health

The problem: Crime and conflict in the waste management sector remain drivers of poor solid waste management. In Nairobi criminal gangs have taken control of the city’s dumpsite. The violence and extortion associated with their presence on a facility with serious public health implications, have led to waste transporters finding alternative dumpsites across the city

What we did and why: This study aimed to understand the origins and nature of crime and conflict in the solid waste management sector and the impact these have on proper municipal solid waste management. Proper solid waste management remains a challenge and however the need to understand the role of crime and conflict is rarely examined and considered in solid waste management.

What our study adds: Our study reveals the existence of cartels at two levels within the solid waste management sector:

  • waste management contracts are given to unqualified providers,
  • criminal gangs control the dumpsite, charging levies over and above what is legally charged to waste transporters.

There is an urgent need for the county government, in the interest of public health, to act quickly to regain control of the solid waste management  chain in the city.

Implications for city policy and practice: Crime and conflict in the solid waste management sector have far-reaching implications for public health due to their impact on proper waste collection, disposal and management of the dumpsite. City governments facing similar situations in low- and middle-income countries and where there has been rapid urban growth need to take full control of the entire waste management chain to ensure efficient collection and proper disposal of solid waste.

Full research article: Conflict and crime in municipal solid waste management: evidence from Mombasa and Nairobi

Authors: Kanyiva Muindi (@muindi_k), Blessing Mberu, Isabella Aboderin & Dickson Amugsi (@damugsi2002)

 Editor: Marcus Grant (@MarcusxGrant)