Primary household exposure to dumpsites consistently predicts incidences of self-reported morbidities relating to diarrhoea/cholera and respiratory tract infections in Dakar Senegal and Nairobi Kenya.

For the attention of: Relevant city and county government or administrative divisions and  environmental management, water and sanitation authorities and governmental departments.

The problem: The primary goal of solid waste management is to protect the health of the population, particularly that of low-income groups, but dumpsites, often located in poor areas continue to constitute a health debilitating man-made hazard across urban Africa. This is exacerbated by lack of local data for implementing agencies and local governments across African cities to pinpoint priorities, measure progress, and identify interventions that work or otherwise among different segments of the urban poor.

What we did: Using data from 2,397 and 1,178 households in Nairobi and Dakar and appropriate statistical models, we examined the linkages between levels of exposure to dumpsites and self-reported morbidities. We collected data on:

  • diarrhea/cholera and respiratory tract infections, among communities located astride dumpsites;
  • those exposed to secondary risks of flooding and air pollution linked to poor solid waste management;
  • and also for non-slum non-exposed settlements.

The study updates the huge gaps in knowledge and practice, particularly in Francophone African cities.

What our study adds: Our study highlights the role that different levels of geographical exposure to solid waste play in the risk of infections within and across the two cities, as well as the perceptions of these risks. The nature of economic activity engagement predisposes households differently to health risks and the site-specific differences and understanding of these risks highlights the need of being cognizant of the social contexts of such exposures.

Implications for city policy and practice: The study reiterates the need to address the physical proximity of Nairobi municipal dumpsite to large settlements of Korogocho and Dandora. It calls for context specific policy and program interventions to address household exposure, particularly the different socioeconomic factors in the two cities. Similarly, there is need for awareness creation investments on health risks, especially among the primarily exposed residents across the two cities, especially in Dakar, where risk perception is generally very low.

Links to relevant resources at Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK)

Solid Waste Management and Risks to Health in Urban Africa: A Study of Nairobi and Mombasa Cities in Kenya

Solid Waste Management and Risks to Health in Urban Africa: A Study of Dakar City, Senegal

Improving solid waste management practices and addressing associated health risks in Dakar, Senega

From plan to action: assessing integration and evolution of solid waste management policies in Kenya

Full research article: Levels of household exposure to solid waste dumpsites and associated loss to health in urban Kenya and Senegal

Authors: Blessing Mberu, Michael Mutua, Caroline Kabaria, Dickson Amugsi & Kanyiva Muindi

Editor: Marcus Grant (@MarcusxGrant)