Ruai Residents Paying a Price for Air Pollution from Sewage Plant

The Ruai Sewage Plant, also known as the Dandora Estate Sewerage Treatment Plant, has been operating continuously since 1978.

It covers a 5,000-acre piece of land and is responsible for managing the wastewater of the population in Nairobi, with up to 2.3 million people relying on it for waste disposal. Despite its importance in wastewater management, the plant is considered a significant pollutant due to the continuous release of gases into the environment.

The plant handles approximately 160,000 cubic meters of wastewater daily and employs 60 full-time workers. However, the release of gases during the treatment process contributes to air pollution. The gases emitted include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and hydrogen sulfide, which create a foul odor in the area.

The emissions from the plant have had adverse effects on the health of the residents of Ruai. People living in the vicinity of the plant have reported respiratory illnesses such as respiratory acidosis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, chest pains, and neurological and cognitive issues.

Moreover, the plant releases approximately 2,811 cubic meters of methane per day, making it a significant contributor to global warming. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has a warming effect 80% higher than carbon dioxide.

Ruai Sewage Treatment Plant ponds

The corrosive nature of some of these gases has also caused damage to property, including corroding roofs and metallic surfaces. The plant employs a two-step treatment process, involving physical treatment for object classification and sieving, followed by biological treatment, where wastewater free of solid objects is sent to ponds for biological stabilization.

However, these measures have proven to be insufficient in effectively addressing the pollution issue. The health implications for the residents have not only affected their well-being but also resulted in economic losses due to the increased need for medical treatment for respiratory illnesses.

Scientist from the University of Nairobi, Zindzi Kwavayi of the Oceans Youth Innovators suggests that one way to manage air pollution in the area is by creating a multicultural forest within the facility. This approach would involve the planting of trees, which play a crucial role in purifying the air and filtering out pollutants, thereby enhancing air cleansing.

Additionally, Scientist Zindzi emphasizes the importance of conducting further research on air pollution from the sewage treatment plant. Investigating the cause-and-effect relationship between the plant and the recent health implications on the community, as well as determining the levels of gaseous pollutant emissions, would be crucial in developing effective mitigation strategies for the current situation.


  • Vincent
    Posted August 14, 2023 4:29 pm 1Likes

    Well articulated and very informational

  • Rebecca Chepkemoi
    Posted August 14, 2023 5:00 pm 1Likes

    The Ruai Sewage Plant’s continuous operation since 1978 highlights its vital role in managing wastewater for Nairobi’s population. However, the emissions raise concerns due to their adverse effects on the environment and residents’ health. The suggestion of creating a multicultural forest within the facility and conducting further research could offer promising steps toward mitigating these issues and improving the well-being of the community. As a Kenyan people, why do we join the call

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