Development of national and local solid waste regulations to reduce SLCP emissions in Kenya

Kenya is a country with a complex waste crisis. The country’s dumpsites are mostly overflowing, unsanitary, and poorly managed, with a mix of all types of waste. Some of Kenya’s urban dumpsites have been in operation for over 40 years, with little to no improvement in the conditions. Of the total amount of waste generated by the country’s 53.77 million population, only a small fraction is collected. Although approximately 60-70% of the waste generated is organic, the source separation is rare, which leads to reduced potential for compost production, low prospects for material recycling, and increased methane emissions.  

These open dumps, illegal dumping, and the absence of a collection infrastructure pose a major threat to public health and the environment. The leachate and toxic smoke from the fires at the Dandora dumpsite, one of the world’s largest open dumpsites, contribute to chronic respiratory and waterborne diseases in neighboring communities. These conditions pose a large threat for more than 3,000 waste pickers that attempt to make out a livelihood from the sites. 

Kenya is therefore taking a multipronged approach, including legal and policy reform, local pilot projects, and measures to incentivize private investment in the waste sector, to improve waste management for multiple benefits. These actions aim to advance integrated waste management and circular economy principles, as well as to reduce emissions of methane and black carbon in key regions and sectors across the country. 

In 2014, Kenya joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, intending to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) for improved public health, the promotion of sustainable development, and the eradication of poverty. With the support of CCAC, the measures taken by this project were able to pass the Sustainable Waste Management Bill in 2019, which is a major step towards modeling the country to move from open dumping to improved collection, separation and recycling, and depositing of final waste in an engineered sanitary landfill. 


During this multi-step activity, CCAC supported the Kenyan government to strengthen its national waste policy and legal framework, accelerate the adoption of county/city waste management regulations, and encourage knowledge exchange and replication of good practices around the country and the region. 

The overarching goals of this activity were: 

  • Assist Kenya to accelerate action to improve solid waste management and address the country’s growing solid waste crisis 
  • Reduce the associated methane and black carbon emissions 
  • Improve public health, and 
  • Enhance sustainable development.
What we are doing

This project was carried out through two sub-activities: 

  • Activity 1: Assist the government of Kenya to promulgate a national legal framework that creates an enabling environment for sustainable solid waste management in Kenya

Effective waste management requires a national enabling legal framework that facilitates and incentivizes good county-level waste regulations and practices. Under this sub-activity, Kenya was able to draft and adopt a National Solid Waste Management Law. CCAC assisted in the drafting of a model county/municipal solid waste management regulation to complement the above law, together with a roadmap for implementing Kenya's National Solid Waste Management Strategy.  

Throughout this project, one of the aims was to maximize South-South exchange through consultations, and comparative analysis, bringing the lessons learned and best practices from South Africa, East Africa, and Latin America to bear to help Kenya advance more quickly and effectively. 

As a part of the project to fulfill this aim, waste management experts from the South African National government participated in a workshop held in Nairobi, with Kenyan federal and municipal government colleagues to discuss key elements and approaches for the National Solid Waste Management law to advance its drafting in the first quarter of 2017.   

  • Activity 2: Accelerate implementation of solid waste management actions through technical and legal drafting assistance to one pilot county 

During this sub-activity, to pilot policy improvements and approaches for accelerating project implementation, one county with high mitigation and replication potential was selected strategically. This was done in collaboration with the national government, taking into consideration local capacity, SLCP mitigation potential, as well as national government priorities. A rapid assessment was conducted to review existing data and analysis, identify critical data gaps, review the main barriers to project implementation and provide an initial list of projects identified as a priority by the local authorities. 

CCAC then provided technical and legal drafting support to the selected county to tailor model regulation developed under the national policy work to local county circumstances. Promising areas for project implementation under the county/city regulations were identified for further collaboration and technical support and a case study was developed.

Why we are doing this work

One of the challenges in Kenya’s waste sector is poor management. The poor state of solid waste management with open and illegal dumping, leachates, toxic smoke, and lack of systematic waste collection infrastructure has posed a major threat to public health and the environment in the country. The communities around the dumpsites and the waste pickers who make their livelihood at the dumpsites are severely exposed to the health threats posed by them. While there are several pilot waste collection, separation, and recycling initiatives that have been launched in Kenya, they require massive scaling up for a significant impact in the reduction of the waste going to open dumps.  

Likewise, Kenya had adopted an impressive series of national laws over the last few years including laws on Climate Change, Wildlife Conservation, Water, and Access to Information. The Solid Waste Management strategy adopted by the Kenyan National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in 2015 represented a critical step forward for the country. However, it was a guidance document only, without legal force. To enable the successful implementation of the strategy and provide an enabling environment for county/city laws, Kenya needed to adopt a national law imposing compliance incentives, and labor and environmental standards. 

Pollutants (SLCPs)