New: We are the Best County Blog in Kenya 2019.


Worrying State of Solid Waste in the City of Kisumu

At the main gate of entry into the City of Kisumu and the neighborhoods, all one reads and sees is hope. Hope of a well developed, homily-world-class city with well designed roads, malls, automobile shops, institutions, petrol stations etc. It’s a beauty to behold ushering you into the deep underbellies of the Sunset City that is Kisumu.

In the recent past, there have been lots of discussions on the Kachok dumpsite, or rather the place where the City of Kisumu disposes its waste. These have mostly been online debates and opinions.

Kisumu’s Kachok dumpsite is approximately 2 km from the town center, 3 acres of open dumping, not a landfill already full.

Kisumu – the third largest city in Kenya, and also a millennium city generates about 400 tons of waste daily, and has no controlled dumping site.

With so much awe, and potential, one is left to wonder what other beautiful offerings the city offers its residents. The flyovers and the two lane Kisumu-Nairobi Highway tells you there is potential, and is very inviting to whoever is using it.

However, there’s one sticking issue. For a number of years, us the city dwellers have seen the current solid waste dumping ground grow from a very small and minute mound into a behemoth of a runaway solid waste management disaster the city has ever seen.

Kisumu City Solid Waste Management Facts

  • Generation:
    • > 400 tonnes per day
  • Collection efficiency:
    • approx. 20 % (80 tonnes) delivered to dumpsite – 10 % private and 10% council collection
    • 60 – 65 % organic in character
  • Most affected areas are informal settlements
    • expanding at 6 – 12 % annually

What the city needs is a Landfill to manage the wastes

There are no controlled landfills in Kenya currently, complete reliance on waste management is placed on open uncontrolled dumping and burning, like the Kachok dumpsite here in Kisumu.

A landfill site (also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump or dumping ground and historically as a midden) is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment (although the burial part is modern; historically, refuse was just left in piles or thrown into pits).

Typically, operators of well-run landfills for non-hazardous waste meet predefined specifications by applying techniques to:

  1. confine waste to as small an area as possible
  2. compact waste to reduce volume
  3. cover waste (usually daily) with layers of soil

During landfill operations a scale or weighbridge may weigh waste-collection vehicles on arrival and personnel may inspect loads for wastes that do not accord with the landfill’s waste-acceptance criteria. Afterward, the waste-collection vehicles use the existing road network on their way to the tipping face or working front, where they unload their contents. After loads are deposited, compactors or bulldozers can spread and compact the waste on the working face.

City of Kisumu

Image courtesy – www3.epa.gov

Kisumu County and City has the capacity to put up such an elaborate and effective system in place. The county will also be the first to adopt such a technology for waste management in Kenya.

Major Challenges to the City

Environmental degradation and poverty are some of the challenges Kisumu share with other cities that have a rapid urbanization. Many of the low income residential areas in the city have tougher issues in regards to wastes management/or disposal.

City of Kisumu

Kisumu County waste collection lorry

With no receptacles and even poor road networks within some quarters, collection of these wastes once disposed in the open along the roads, remains a mirage.

Solid Waste Situation

Despite a growing economy, Kisumu still registers one of the highest poverty levels in Kenya intensified by a rapidly rising informal sector against a backdrop of collapsing or a declining private sector growth.

city of Kisumu

Waste scavengers at Kachok dumpsite

The infrastructure development and service expansion has not matched the rapid population growth, thus providing a great challenge to the city authority.

  • Litter and dust control
  • Plastics blown about
  • Smoke from burning and odour – the areas surrounding the site has started having foul smell and the air is polluted by both smoke and bad odour
  • Dumpsite home to:
    • human scavengers
    • birds/animal scavengers
  • No pest control – breeding ground of pests
  • Lake/River river pollution
  • Birds are a threat to the aviation industry, as it lies on the flight path to the airport 5km away

Role of Private Collectors

  • Gap-fillers
    • response to demand
  • Pioneers
    • innovative technologies and solutions
  • Sub -concessionaires
    • scavenging for material for other industries
  • Managers and initiators
    • viable solutions at small scale level
  • Small-scale, individualistic, weary of competition, difficult to up-scale


Kisumu City already has developed an integrated urban development plan, however, its implementation. If this can be done, then solid waste management in this city and county will be a thing of the past, and the city will reclaim its lost glory as the Cleanest City in Kenya.

City of Kisumu

A very clean Oginga-Odinga street in the Kisumu CBD

As a county, we should adopt and implement:

  • New technologies
    • waste disposal techniques
    • waste collection techniques
    • landfills
  • Social attitude change among the city dwellers
    • sorting at source sorting at source
    • minimization
  • Waste as an economic resource
    • recycle
    • re-use
    • reprocessing – manures
    • reduction of amount of new products
    • recovery e.g. anaerobic digestion – biogas
  • Legal framework surrounding environmental management, conservation and protection
    • revise the laws
    • encourage partnerships
    • Generally, waste is a useful by-product at the wrong place or state 🙂
About author

Lover of life, food and travel. Fell in love with Kisumu and has never looked back.
Related posts

This Rainy Season: The Next Best Time to Plant Trees is Now!


Kenya To Benefit From Kshs 3.8 Billion Coca-Cola Fund To Fight Plastic Waste Pollution


Beginning of the End to Water Hyacinth Menace in Kisumu?


Don't Wash Vehicles as You Eat Fish at Lwang'ni Beach