Plastic pollution is a real and serious problem faced by many countries across the world, but developing countries tend to bear the brunt of the situation when it comes to plastic pollution. 

Kenya is one of many countries facing this issue and at a rapidly increasing rate. There are a few budding recycling programs in Kenya at the moment, fighting back against pollution. But will they be enough to turn the tide? 

Should Kenya be concerned with the amount of plastic it wastes?

The estimated amount of domestic plastic waste produced per person in the country has skyrocketed in recent years, despite the stringent laws and bans on plastic use in place. Blocked roads, clogged waterways, and damaged fields and food sources are among just a few consequences of the situation. Mountains of plastic waste in rural areas are also malaria breeding grounds. It’s easy to see why Kenya needs to focus more on combating plastic pollution.

Data provided by Compare the Market Australia had Kenya rated 65th in the world for plastic pollution, significantly high for the population.

What is holding Kenya back?

Developing countries such as Kenya often have smaller, more localized responses to pollution. Instead of government-owned waste treatment, smaller groups of people and charities are working to solve the problem. There is also the issue of poor waste treatment and management infrastructure due to monetary deficiencies, foreign policy, or the involvement of the private sector. The problem is widespread and complex, and currently Kenya is not equipped to deal with the issue. 

Lack of funds and infrastructure

Waste treatment and disposal needs large amounts of funds, power, and resources, and Kenya currently lacks the funds for such large-scale recycling plants and waste treatment facilities. Making waste management more affordable could help with the current situation in Kenya.

Non-budgetary deficiencies

Monetary deficiencies in Kenya are one piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving environmental issues. The other key piece comes in the form of non-budgetary deficiencies. The law enforcement, education, and transport sectors have not been doing their part. Although there are laws in place, enforcement is either lacking or weak, and a lack of public awareness and education on the environment and policies also poses a problem. Politicians and law enforcers also need to take more responsibility. 

Organizational structures have failed to provide Kenya with a serviceable waste management system; chronic underfunding, too few vehicles, poor equipment, and infrequent maintenance are a few reasons for this. These problems hold back the country from not only containing the waste to dispose of it but from transporting it as well. 

One of the biggest ways modern Kenya is turning the tide on plastic pollution is by cracking down on these issues. 

The private sector

In Kenya, the lack of organization and infrastructure has led to an increase in the private sector’s involvement in waste treatment. Civilians and small groups of people have taken the problem of plastic waste into their own hands and filled the gap left by the government by collecting, sorting, and recycling the waste themselves. 

In some cases, private or non-governmental organizations take control of waste management through private-public partnerships with organizations like EcoPost. This is the case in larger cities like Nairobi and Mombasa with solid waste management. Although not widely spread, this can be the start of more partnerships to fight against pollution in the country. 

To summarise, no country’s waste treatment plan is ideal. In developing countries like Kenya, though, plastic pollution poses a huge threat to the environment and the future of the country. Although there are glimmers of hope in the form of individual action, there is still a long road ahead for the country as a whole.

A lack of funds, infrastructure, law enforcement, and education are all issues that need immediate attention. Allotting enough funds for government waste treatment facilities is a good start. Sustaining them with enough power is also crucial. Educating and encouraging the public to get involved can only help if the government gets involved too. To foster a better waste management system, Kenya needs to work on legislation, education, and allocating more funds to the sectors at hand.