Solid waste production is rapidly increasing in Kenyan cities. However, the implementation of available policies to address the canker leaves much to be desired. 

For the attention of: UN-Habitat and the UN environmental programme (UNEP).

The problem: Solid waste management is a significant issue confronting many countries across the world. It is particularly severe in low and middle countries, where solid waste production is on the ascendency. In Kenya, estimates indicate that Nairobi residents produce between 3,000 and 3,200 tons of solid waste each day. Other cities in the country face similar challenges. In light of this, the government has formulated several policies and regulations to address the menace. However, there are deficiencies in the implementation of these policies. This situation is unlikely to be confined to Kenya.

What we did and why: We used focus group discussions, key informant interviews and in-depth interviews in the data collection. We used these approaches because they offer the opportunity to investigate the issues in a more in-depth yet broader manner. We interviewed SW pickers/workers, community members/leaders, community-based organisations, waste collection companies, non-governmental organisations, government representatives, staff of county governments, national government agencies, and bilateral partners. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim by professional transcribers.

What our study adds: Our approach used helped to identify solid waste management policy implementation gaps and opportunities that could be utilised:

  • We assessed policy implementation and at the same time identified existing opportunities. A first study to the best of knowledge, to do this in Kenya
  • We produced robust findings due to the wide diversity of study participants

Implications for city policy and practice: Key points for cities:

  • Ensure efficient solid waste management – political leaders must be willing to implement policies and regulations they have enacted effectively.
  • Make efforts to remove the possible barriers to the effective implementation and enforcement of solid waste management policies and regulations in the country
  • Address corruption, lack of political will, political interference and ensure cooperation from the citizenry for effective implementation and enforcement of solid waste management policies and regulations.
  • Acknowledge the need for awareness for waste separation at source, partnership working and well-planned dumpsites.

Full research article: Implementation of solid waste management policies in Kenya: challenges and opportunities by Dickson A. Amugsi, Kanyiva Muindi & Blessing U. Mberu. City Know-how Editor: Marcus Grant.