Rwanda’s Capital City, Kigali, Is A Public Health Disaster

By David Himbara

Open raw sewage in Kigali

Thirty years ago, the then government of Rwanda identified Nyanza, in Kigali, as the site on which to dump the city’s waste and raw sewage. Waste treatment and management was unknown. By 2012, the Kagame government acknowledged that Nyanza was a disastrous health hazard, and closed it. Another location was identified – Nduba landfill. By 2016, Nduba had became a bigger disaster. Waste treatment and management is still unknown. More than 300 tons of solid waste are daily collected and dumped at Nduba. Kigali’s population of 1.5 million is directly exposed to health hazards. The disaster may be divided in six parts as follows:

Disaster 1: Surface Water Unprotected From Sewage

Kigali does not have an appropriate system to protect ground and surface water from raw sewage. The problem is widespread and affects almost every neighbourhood.

Disaster 2: Toxic & Recyclable Waste Not Separated

Kigali does not have the capability of separating toxic/infectious materials from recyclable waste. All types of waste are dumped together at Nduba landfill – just as was the case at Nyanza.

Disaster 3: Raw Sewage Lakes Have Formed

There is no system to receive and treat sewage emptied from septic tanks in Kigali. The raw sewage is deposited into pits at the Nduba site – at Nduba several lakes of raw sewage have formed.

Disaster 4: Open Raw Sewage Is Close To Households

Adjacent to the waste dumps are neighbouring communities that live with the smell, flies, and waste running into their fields and homes.

Disaster 5: Nduba Not Fenced Against Illegal Dumping 

Illegal dumping continues to spread in nearby hilltops. Without fencing for all sides to protect against unauthorized access, scattering of solid waste becomes the order of the day.

Disaster 6: Open Sewage Close To Water Resources

Landfills are located in less than required distance of 400 metres at proximity of households and water resources. Poor families routinely drink polluted water.

The Problem Is Nation-wide

The noted menaces are not limited to Kigali but affect the entire country. The 2016 Auditor General’s Report explains:

“Audits conducted during the year on dumpsites and landfills in nine (9) districts of Huye, Muhanga, Nyanza, Rusizi, Nyamagabe, Nyagatare, Musanze, Kayonza and Gicumbi identified the following: a) Lack of separation of biodegradable and non- biodegradable waste: Districts do not have appropriate solid waste management of separating Biodegradable and non- biodegradable waste. Separation is necessary to facilitate appropriate disposal. b) Inappropriate location: Most of dumping sites & Landfills are located in less than required distance of 400 metres at proximity of resident homes and other infrastructures. This was noted in Musanze, Muhanga, Nyanza, Rwamagana, Kayonza, Rubavu, Nyagatare and Gicumbi. c) Inappropriate landfill: Cases were noted where the landfills in districts were not appropriate and were not fenced to protect them and to limit access of unauthorized people. This was noted in Muhanga, Nyanza (former landfill closed in August 2016), Rusizi, Nyamagabe, Nyagatare, Musanze, Kayonza and Gicumbi. d) Lack of appropriate working conditions: Workers involved in collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste do not have enough required materials such as clothing which include overalls, working boots, gloves, dust masks, eyes protective glasses and helmets to protect themselves when working.”

Question To Kagame

Dear General Kagame, as you are well aware, the Nduba landfill has not addressed the public health disasters that made you close the Nyanza dumpsite. The bogus methods used to dispose waste at Nduba landfill are exactly the same bogus methods you used at Nyanza. What is going on Chief?

You want a clean city, don’t you? By the way, where does your Kigali Convention Centre dump into sewage? Directly in Nyabugogo/Nyabarongo, or at Nduba? Shame on you General.