Chemicals and toxic waste management program
Chemicals are increasingly being used in nearly all sectors of Kenya's economy, and they represent a significant proportion of the country's imports. But although the use and disposal of chemicals frequently poses a public and environmental health hazard, the issue remains neglected by government and the private sector. As well as lax regulation, Eco-Ethics is also concerned by the lack of awareness among consumers and workers in the informal sector over the risks of toxic chemicals and waste. We set up the chemicals and toxic waste management programme to respond to such challenges.
Reducing unintentional POPs produced by the informal economy in MombasaAt the unofficial dump site of Kibarani in Mombasa, thick smoke fills the air every evening from artisanal juakali workers burning car tyres and waste for scrap metal. Such activities release toxic chemicals called persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, which, once released into the environment, are difficult to break down and find their way up the food chain. Economic growth strategies and funding incentives have seen rampant growth of the informal sector in Kenya, and a consequent rise in activities that use or release toxic chemicals. Our POPs project aims to increase juakali artisans' knowledge of the environmental and health hazards, and build their capacity to reduce POPs emissions.
Campaign against lead poisoningEco-Ethics has been working to highlight the plight of the Owino Uhuru slum dwellers, who are suffering from lead residue released from a nearby metal refinery company. Medical reports indicate high blood lead levels in three children, while residents claimed that some domestic birds die upon exposure to effluents from the company and complained of respiratory problems, abnormal fainting spells, weak joints and eye problems. As part of our response, we began sensitization meetings with the residents on the effects of lead, and initiated training on how they could conduct non-violent advocacy initiatives.
Advocacy against e-wasteElectronic waste is considered toxic, yet it floods a number of dumping sites including Kibarani and Mwakirunge in Mombasa. As in China and Nigeria, a considerable number of people try to eke a living out of e-waste through extraction of precious metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and gold. According to a preliminary survey conducted by Eco-Ethics in partnership with iLima-Kenya and Basel Action Network, the methods used in the extraction of the metals are crude and pose a great risk to human health and the environment. Scrap metal dealers who burn the e-waste in the night dismiss complaints from local residents. Eco-Ethics advocates for stricter regulation and an -Y´e-waste take back¡ system, whereby equipment manufactures buy back unusable models rather than see them left for waste.