Go to main content

From Dumpsite to Dreams: A Remarkable Journey of a Plastic Waste Collector in Dandora Dumpsite, Nairobi

Nestled in the heart of Nairobi, amidst the bustling urban landscape and vibrant streets, lies a place often considered a wasteland – the Dandora dumpsite where Esther Amadi, a 37-year-old mother of seven and a plastics waste collector in Dandora dumpsite. For decades, the dumpsite has served as the final resting place for Nairobi's waste, particularly an abundance of plastics that choke the land and waterways. Yet, for Esther and others like her, this landfill is not just a source of despair; it's a place where they've discovered purpose and a means of survival.

Posted on 02 Oct 2023

Esther's life serves as a profound example of the indomitable human spirit, unfolding a journey of transformation and inspiration. Her residence, an iron sheet-walled house near the Dandora River, offers a view of the dumpsite's mountainous expanse.

Esther's day commences at dawn, as she along with numerous waste recyclers, descends upon the dumpsite. Armed with gloves and torn sacks, they sift through the trash mounds in search of valuable plastics. It's a grueling and hazardous task, with toxic fumes and the constant risk of being buried under shifting waste. However, for Esther, it's a lifeline.

"I do this not because I want to, but because I have to," Esther says, wiping sweat from her brow. She explains that her daily earnings of about Ksh300 from waste collection put food on the table and pay her children's school fees, though sometimes it's challenging and children stay away from school due to a lack of fees.

Esther's story echoes throughout Dandora. She has become an advocate for cleaner, healthier living conditions in Dandora, joining community-based organizations and women groups focused on recycling and waste management.

Her aim is to reduce the environmental impact of the dumpsite, leading women groups to inspire their members to turn away from complaints and work hard to earn a living from plastics.

Esther's efforts have not gone unnoticed. She has inspired others in her community to combat plastic pollution.

Together, they've initiated small recycling projects, turning discarded plastics into valuable commodities. It's a glimmer of hope in a place often associated with despair.

I may be a waste collector, but I'm also a warrior for change. We have a responsibility to protect our environment and give our children a better future. My desire is to afford the best education for my children.

/  Esther, a plastics waste collector in Dandora dumpsite

05 Oct 2023
Education under attack in West and Central Africa - 2023 upd…
02 Oct 2023
Joint Statement: Millions still struggling to survive in Yem…
Read more about Kenya