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Where filth flows from toilet to your table…

Farmers in Nairobi’s suburbs use raw sewage to irrigate crops putting unsuspecting consumers in danger of contracting diseases

Milliam Murigi and Kipkoech Komugor @PeopleDailyKe

The biggest food scare in Kenya  currently is sugar. So as a health-conscious consumer, you may resolve to keep the sugar bowl at arm’s length and pile your plate high with good old, chock-full-of-nutrients sukuma wiki — just like the doctor ordered.

But as you say the grace before tucking in, pray that the greens did not find their way into the kitchen from one of the many irrigated vegetable patches in Nairobi or  other big town.

That is because, compared to your garden variety farmer, urban farmers tend to be more innovative and liberal when it comes to raising their crops.

For one, they hate to see any moisture go to waste, seeing water is not only a scarce but very expensive commodity.

From their look, these sukuma wiki stems have fed many families and graced restaurant tables. Never mind what flows down the channel.

And no water comes cheaper and more readily available than raw sewage — why the stuff is practically flooding every road and estate while water taps are ever dry!

If you think referring to raw sewage as water is stretching it too far, remember we said Nairobi farmers are liberal.

Besides classifying sewage as water, they probably have figured out that the substance is also first-class fertiliser that turns their vegetable crop into rich-dark, succulent agricultural wonders. How about that for killing two birds with one stone. Innovative, wouldn’t you say?

Such innovative urban farmers are to be found in Nairobi’s Njiru area, near the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company’s sewerage collection point.

A farmer who talked to People Daily had an even interesting answer why they are using raw sewage to irrigate their farms.

Another toxic jet!

“Initially we used water from the river (Nairobi) for farming but in the last two years, we have been using raw sewage.

This is because the river has become too polluted with all sorts of waste,” said a farmer who, for obvious reasons, did not want to be named.

That means the river is so filthy  farmers no longer see the logic of sourcing water for their crops from it and instead go straight to the source of the river’s pollution: raw sewage from exhausters.

Residents say that because of bad roads, most of the lorries cannot access the sewage collection point, thus empty their cargo into the river or on open space, which the farmers trap and use to grow food.

“More than a hundred trucks come to this place every day. With a typical truck having a capacity of 3,000 litres, every truck releases 750 litres of water indirectly into the river meaning almost 75,000 litres of waste water ends up in the river from this place on a daily basis,” Antony Otieno, a resident of Njiru told People Daily.

Bad roads force trucks to discharge sewage into the river and open ground. Farmers use raw sewage to water crops because the river is filthy anyway. It is a vicious cycle that makes life pretty dicey in Nairobi.Ugali and sukuma wiki, anyone?

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