Dandora, the infinite landfill where plastic is a way of subsistence

A global treaty to eliminate single-use plastic is decided in Nairobi, but at the Dandora landfill, a few kilometers away, thousands of people work in unhealthy conditions to be able to recycle it and make a living.

Entering without wellies is daring, but a young man walks in flip-flops. The soil is not soil, but an amalgamation of crushed black plastics resulting from rain mud. The trenches made of raffia bags act as walls that flank the only human passage. In some areas there are – perfectly aligned by color – blue plastic milk bottles, green beer bottles and liters of wine, but it is not common. 

Once you reach the end of the path, the only option to move forward is to climb the mountains of garbage carefully. Resting your hands is not recommended. From above, you can see how a Mercedes Benz truck arrives and opens its side door. A dozen people gather on it with their empty bags, ready to collect valuable material accompanied by the attentive gaze of the marabouts who crowd over the piles of shit.

Jeanette Ogola , at 38 years old, has been coming to work every day for ten days at Dandora, the main landfill in the city of Nairobi . Opened in 1976 with funding from the World Bank to improve sanitation in the Kenyan capital, the site has continued to expand and is estimated to now cover 12 hectares. In 2001 they said there was no more garbage, but more than twenty years later, more and more people like Jeanette continue to come to it to make a living. 

Every day she collects tupperware , plates, bottles, glasses and all kinds of disposable plastics, but she has less and less to offer her six children in the face of competition. “Before we filled a truck with two people, now there are between 20 or 30,” she explains. «Although there is more plastic and the price per kilo has increased, I charge less. “Before I earned 700 shillings –4.24 euros–, but now I only earn 400 shillings –2.42 euros–.”

One of the people who has joined the work in recent years is Molivia Otieno . “She was my only option,” she says. At 26 years old, a child of five and without a job after having cleaned in private homes, he decided to go to the landfill a year ago. There, the nearly 6,000 people who work do so in unsanitary conditions , surrounded by broken glass bottles, syringes and toxic fumes coming from burned garbage. To Read more: https://www.climatica.lamarea.com/dandora-vertedero-plastico-kenia/