The Mayor of Kicukiro District, William Ntidendereza, has expressed concern over possible health hazards that could emanate from Nyanza garbage site.
“Although there is no study yet conducted on its likely health hazards, we can’t rule out possibility of it being a threat to nearby residents,” Ntidendereza said on Monday.
The site is the only waste dumping place for the whole of Kigali City. It is located on a hill slope area, which makes the possibilities of water runoff eroding some hazardous wastes from there during the rainy season high.
Ntidendereza’s concern comes in the awake of UN Environment Programme (UNEP) new report about the health hazards from garbage sites around cities in Africa.
The reported health hazards by the UNEP study conducted around Dandora waste dump in Nairobi, Kenya were respiratory diseases, including chronic bronchitis and asthma.
The report dubbed, ‘Environmental Pollution and Impacts on Public Health’, highlights the dangerous high levels of heavy metals and rotting wastes which put children from nearby residents at high risk of associated hazards.
It also indicates that wastes from Dondara often find their way into the Nairobi River that runs just meters away from the dumpsite.
These wastes pollute water used by local residents and farmers downstream, a serious threat to children living nearby and the city’s environment in general.
The report says that most children had blood lead levels above the internationally accepted action levels of 10 micrograms per decilitre of blood.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a quarter of all diseases affecting humankind are attributable to environmental risks with children more vulnerable than adults.
Among children under five years of age, environmentally-related illnesses are responsible for more than 4.7 million deaths annually.
Twenty-five percent of deaths in developing countries are related to environmental factors, compared to 17 percent of deaths in the developed world.
“Since waste dumping is unrestricted and unmanaged, people are also at risk from contracting blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis,” Njoroge Kimani, a principal UNEP researcher, said.