Pinnacle Medicine & Medical Sciences

(ISSN: 2360-9516)

September 2015, Vol. 2 (7).

© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research Article

 

The Health Risk of Electronic Waste in Kenya: Challenges and Policies

Jackson Songa1* & Billy Lubanga

School of Public Health (SPH),1*
Moi University,
Box 4606, Eldoret 30100,
Kenya.

School of Medicine (SOM)2
Moi University,
Box 4606, Eldoret 30100,
Kenya.

Accepted 8 September, 2015; Available Online 10 September, 2015.

Abstract:

Background: Electronic waste or E-waste is a relatively new addition to the ever-growing list of hazardous waste being deposited in the environment. This includes discarded electronic and electrical equipment. The introduction of mobile phones has in the recent past accelerated the magnitude of the problem. Developing countries like Kenya are facing enormous challenges related to the generation and management of E-waste which are mostly internally generated. The existing management practices related to E-waste in Kenya are poor to say the least and have the potential to risk both human health and the environment. Moreover, the policy level initiatives are not being implemented in anyway. The austere problem of E-waste along with its policy level implications has hardly been detected by the radar of the responsible Government authorities. During the course of the study it has been found that there is an urgent need to address the issues related to E-waste in Kenya in order to avoid its detrimental future consequences on the health of people and the environment.
Introduction: In recent years we have witnessed the rapid increase in number of mobile phone subscribers, mobile services providers, internet service providers, data operators and internet users. This is primarily caused by liberalisation by government of the importation of computers and its peripherals in government entities, government decision to reduce taxes and duties on those electronic products and flexibility on regulations for establishment of media and telecommunication companies. All these steps have contributed much to the inflow of electronic products particularly computers and its peripherals, mobile phones and television sets. This poses challenges on appropriate methods to dispose of end-of-use electronic products without affecting the environment, putting the health of the people at risk and without loss of data and information stored in these products.
Furthermore, it's unfortunate that this inflow of electronic products seems to have caught government entities, private organizations, and the public in general, unprepared on how to safely and economically dispose of these end-of-use electronic products. This has ultimately left piles of unattended-to end-of-use electronic products both in the streets and in office stores.
This paper attempts to address the challenges on E- Wastes disposal steered by proliferations and usage of electronic devices both at homes and offices and attempts to propose solutions to these challenges. Also in this paper we suggest appropriate measures that should be taken categorically, by Government entities, private organizations and the public in general to prevent the health and environmental damage.
Objectives: The main objective of this review is to outline from literature the underlying challenges in E- Waste disposal in Kenya and suggest some remedies.
Methodology: Review literature from different countries including whatever is available in Kenya.
Expected output: To prepare a firm ground for a concept note aimed at conducting a comprehensive study of the scenario in Kenya. Armed with such information, the health system will be better placed to advise the Government on the best policies to enact to facilitate the tackling of the problem.
Results: Kenya has no specific policy or regulation related to E-waste management. However, there are a number of policies and regulations which aim at protecting the environment and human settlements. Examples of these policies are: Environmental Policy (www.environment.go.ke), the Sustainable Industrial Policy (Framework for sustainable development in Kenya, 2012), National ICT Policy, (Understanding what is happening in ICT in Kenya, 2012) among others. The review of these different policies reveals that there is a need for E-waste specific policies to address the different challenges and issues of E-waste management. There are also a number of regulations and laws that provides an institutional framework for a sustainable management of the environment in general. Among others, the National Environmental Management Act (CAP 387, 1999) is the cornerstone legislation in Kenya. This legislation provides key principles for environment management, waste management, and impact and risk assessment among other things. Given the rise of importation of electronic products in Kenya, and the nature of e-waste and how it is disposed in Kenya, and the difficulty in determining its mass and flux in the country, the health and environmental hazards that are the results of e-waste are likely to be considerable. The impact of this is a degraded environment, and negatively affected human health.

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