In an effort to tackle severe air pollution, students from Dandora secondary school in Nairobi, Kenya, are planting bamboo next to one of Africa’s largest trash dumps to fight pollution. This campaign aims to cleanse the air that has long been contaminated by the neighboring landfill.

For decades, the Dandora neighborhood has battled worsening air quality due to the adjacent dumpsite, constantly receiving trash despite being declared full over twenty years ago. Determined to make a difference, students, equipped with gardening tools and bamboo seedlings, are striving for a greener, healthier environment.

Allan Sila, a 17-year-old participant, vividly describes the urgency of their cause, equating his classroom experience to being in a “smelly latrine.”

A Strategic Approach to Cleaner Air

The bamboo project, initiated by school principal Eutychus Maina, seeks to address the health risks from dumpsite pollution, specifically respiratory issues rampant among the local population. Through online research, Maina identified bamboo as a potent solution, thanks to its rapid growth and significant carbon dioxide absorption capabilities.

Aderiana Mbandi, an air quality expert from the United Nations Environment Program based in Nairobi, underscores the detrimental effects of air pollution on overall health, including cognitive functions. She stresses reducing exposure as the primary defense against such pollution-related ailments.Since the project’s inception last August, the bamboo seedlings have soared to nine feet, with expectations to grow up to 40 feet, depending on soil quality. Despite each seedling costing 400 Kenyan shillings (approximately $3), a challenge for the publicly funded institution, the school is committed to fortifying its perimeter with bamboo.

The Larger Picture of Pollution in Nairobi

The Dandora dumpsite, sprawling over 50 hectares (about 123 acres), exacerbates Nairobi’s pollution crisis with its daily intake of over 2,000 tons of waste. This contributes to the city’s broader pollution woes, including emissions from numerous second hand vehicles and industrial smoke.

Recent monitoring by UNEP and the Stockholm Environment Institute reveals that out of 166 days, only 12 boasted excellent air quality by World Health Organization standards. Beyond bamboo, the school is planting trees like jacaranda and grevillea to further purify the air.

As Kenyans fight pollution with bamboo, this mitigates immediate health dangers but also instills a sense of environmental stewardship among students. Josiah Nyamwata, another student involved, praises the simplicity and effectiveness of tree planting. Despite facing challenges such as vultures from the dumpsite, these efforts symbolize a step toward environmental sustainability and a healthier community.

Image Source: CEO Insights Asia