Nexus between Environmental Safety and Solid Waste Management: A Case Study of the Kenya Defence Forces


Ever-increasing urban and industrial development throughout the world is leading to levels of waste and pollution, which seriously threaten the natural resources upon which humankind depends for its survival. International commitments to principles of sustainable development include consideration of waste and the use of renewable resources. Therefore, the implications of waste disposal throughout a product’s life cycle need to be recognized in order to assess the true environmental impact of waste. A Joint United States – Republic of South Africa Environmental Security Working Group Report(2007). Human are by their very nature careless with waste. This has been a problem from man’s earliest time. Four basic means of dealing with trash have been used over and over in history, these are; dumping, burning, recycling and waste minimization. Kenneth Babalance 2003, The History of Waste. Waste has played an important role in history in the way that it has been handled and its impact on environmental safety. The bubonic plague, cholera and typhoid fever impacted on human health and altered populations of Europe; in Africa, it is estimated that there are over 37Million landmines across the continent with Angola containing approximately 10Million of them. These and other solid wastes in the form of Unexploded Ordinances (UXOs) continue to pose serious danger to populations living in these environments particularly the young and poor. Angola for example has over 70,000 amputees, 8,000 of whom are children. Our Africa - A Land Mine Nightmare, accessed online on 12/03/2014. The Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century in Europe and the Americas. The availability of raw materials, increased trade and growing populations stimulated new inventions and the development of machinery. Growing populations and increased production led to greater amounts of waste. Government officials and the public increasingly became concerned about waste. To avoid the potential health problems associated with unmanaged waste in urban environments, the "Age of Sanitation" began. In many communities, organized waste collection and disposal systems were instituted. Some of the earliest organized environmental efforts also occurred during this period, the National Solid Waste Association (2013). It is estimated that about half a century ago, 80% of Africa’s population lived in rural communities. The continent has recently passed a historic landmark when the population reached one billion. In the next few years, this is expected to be replicated as more people will live in towns and cities rather than on farms or small settlements. JICA, 2012. Apart from lacking the infrastructure and resources to satisfy such a massive influx of people, urban centers face a more pressing problem referred to euphemistically in official circles as “solid waste management” or in everyday language, getting rid of the garbage. JICA, 2012. Currently, Africa faces severe challenges in coping with environmental safety issues arising from the rapidly increasing volume and changing characteristics of urban and industrial wastes. The quantum of waste is increasing significantly due to economic growth, rising population, and increasing consumption 7 per capita waste generation. Apart from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), emerging waste streams such as electronic waste (E-waste), health-care waste, plastic waste, Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste, and hazardous waste have become matters of concern. Most countries in Africa qualify as economically developing countries. Those countries are characterized by poverty and by having very little economic and technical resources. Another characteristic of Africa is conflict- it is estimated that 25% of the countries in the continent are engaged in some type of hostility. These conditions have negative impacts on environmental management and specifically on management of solid wastes, because as the economy suffers, other problems precede management of solid wastes. Luis F. Diaz et al (1999). Following this concept, the situation in Kenya has been exacerbated by several factors including low economic growth rate (1.1% in 1993 currently estimated at 4.5%) that has resulted in an increase in poverty levels which presently stands at 56%. Migration from the rural areas to the urban areas has resulted in unplanned settlements with suburban areas accommodating about 60% of the urban population on only 5% urban land area. Rotich K Henry (2006). Solid Waste Management in Kenya therefore offers several challenges from clogged drainage and sewers, waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhea, increased upper respiratory diseases from open burning of the garbage to malaria. Entrepreneur’s toolkit (2012). Political interference also hampers smooth running of local authorities. Vulnerability of pollution of surface and groundwater is high because local authorities rarely considered environmental impact in citing MSW disposal sites. Illegal dumping of MSW on the river banks or on the roadside poses environmental and economic threats on nearby properties. Poor servicing of MSW collection vehicles, poor state of infrastructure and the lack of adequate funding militate against optimization of MSW disposal service. Though waste management has been the responsibility of local authorities, the scenario is changing with the realization that local authorities on their own are not capable of managing waste. Like other cities in the world, solid waste management is an expensive venture gobbling up to 30 to 50% of revenues. This is unsustainable and Kenyan cities and towns end up with endless heaps of garbage dotting the landscape. To achieve any meaningful and sustainable solid waste management, involvement of stakeholders is important. Over the years, the role of the informal sector through community-based organizations (CBOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the private sector has increased offering solutions towards improvement of MSWM. Zhao Y et al, (2006). One such stakeholder is the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). Established under article 241 of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, KDF is charged with the responsibility for the defense and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic, KDF Service Charter (2011). This mandate has remained the same but the mode of executing it has metamorphosed over time. In the present dynamics of National Defence, contemporary national security embraces more than the traditional concept that was synonymous with the defense of the national territory from external attacks by other states. New threats to the country include inter-ethnic conflicts that result from 8 competition for dwindling resources such as water, pasture, firewood and environmental disasters, both man-made and natural, Oli Brown (2005). In addition to the traditional strategies of national security, environmental considerations particularly the concept of sustainable management, are increasingly forming part of the core necessities in providing holistic security. The KDF however needs to start with addressing environmental issues within itself to effectively spearhead this endeavor and solid waste management is one such area that needs to be addressed.

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Wando, D (2021). Nexus between Environmental Safety and Solid Waste Management: A Case Study of the Kenya Defence Forces. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

Wando, David "Nexus between Environmental Safety and Solid Waste Management: A Case Study of the Kenya Defence Forces" Afribary. Afribary, 01 Jun. 2021, Accessed 27 May. 2024.


Wando, David . "Nexus between Environmental Safety and Solid Waste Management: A Case Study of the Kenya Defence Forces". Afribary, Afribary, 01 Jun. 2021. Web. 27 May. 2024. < >.


Wando, David . "Nexus between Environmental Safety and Solid Waste Management: A Case Study of the Kenya Defence Forces" Afribary (2021). Accessed May 27, 2024.