Kenyan urban centres face waste crisis, United Nations report warns

Thursday, February 29th, 2024 04:04 | By
Garbage at Shauri Moyo Estate, Nairobi. PHOTO/Print
Garbage at Shauri Moyo Estate, Nairobi. PHOTO/Print

The mounds of waste you are seeing in Nairobi and other cities are expected to rise by two thirds in the next few decades, a UN report shows.

The report warns that the costs associated with this are also likely to grow correspondingly. According to the report, the quality of life for residents will also decline.

Launched at the third day of the 6th Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report indicates that only a drastic reduction in waste generation will secure a liveable and affordable future.

Titled Beyond an age of waste: Turning rubbish into a resource, UNEP’s Global Waste Management Outlook 2024 (GWMO 2024) provides an update on global waste generation and the cost of waste and its management since 2018.

“Nairobi generates between 2,000 to 2,500 tons of waste a day,” the World Bank revealed in a January 2023 report.

The UNEP analysis uses life cycle assessments to explore what the world could gain or lose through continuing business-as-usual, adopting halfway measures, or committing fully to zero waste and circular economy societies.

According to the report, municipal solid waste generation is predicted to grow from 2.3 billion tonnes in 2023 to 3.8 billion tonnes by 2050. In 2020, the global direct cost of waste management was an estimated USD 252 billion.

Rapid growth

However, when factoring in the hidden costs of pollution, poor health and climate change from poor waste disposal practices, the cost rises to USD 361 billion.

Without urgent action on waste management, by 2050 this global annual cost could almost double to a staggering USD 640.3 billion.

“Waste generation is intrinsically tied to GDP, and many fast-growing economies are struggling under the burden of rapid waste growth.

By identifying actionable steps to a more resourceful future and emphasising the pivotal role of decision-makers in the public and private sectors to move towards zero waste, this Global Waste Management Outlook can support governments seeking to prevent missed opportunities to create more sustainable societies and to secure a liveable planet for future generations,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director.

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