​Walking through the Nanyuki slum the first thing you notice is a peculiar smell of a sweet but unnatural like smoke. A smell that you will probably never have smelled before if you come from a western country like me. You will soon realise that the smell is coming from huge piles of smouldering trash being burnt on the side of the street right next to where the people burning it live.

For someone like me who comes from a completely different place where the trash is picked up by the government once a week whereafter some of it is recycled and some of burnt in a big compound where the energy from the fire is converted in to electricity this is certainly a new sight.

Here in the slum it is a normal everyday occurrence for the people living here.

But burning trash in this way is not a foreign concept to most people in the world. Statistics show that around 1.1 billion tons of trash or 40 percent of the worlds trash is dealt with in this manner making it the most common way to handle rubbish in the world.

I was interested in finding out what effect the trash burning has on the environment and the health risk that it causes the people living right next to it. When looking at research done on the issues with burning trash made by the American professor Wiedinmyer who works for the national centre or Atmospheric Research it shows that carbon dioxide is the primary major gas emitted by trash burning but on a global scale it only amounts to 5 percent of the total global carbon dioxide emissions, which does not seem like a very big percentage when you take into consideration that it is 40 percent of the worlds trash which is dealt with in this way. So when it comes to the environment trash burning is definitely not the big sinner.

The numbers are not as positive when it comes to the trash burning’s effect on the locals health. In Wiedinmyers research he found out that 29 percent of the global human emissions of small particulate matter (tiny solid particles and liquid droplets from dust to metals that can penetrate deep into the lungs) come from trash fires. Making it a huge health risk for the people breathing it everyday.

I also wanted the perspective of the people doing it and living with it everyday and when asking the locals living in the Nanyuki slum how the view the trash burning their answers are very positive. They told me that before they started collectively gathering the trash and burning it in piles it used to just be scattered around the slum so that instead of the smell of smoke and fire which disappears throughout the day there would be a constant smell of rubbish all around the slum. So for them this recent development has made life in the slum a lot more comfortable.

So when discussing this issue of trash burning it is difficult to say whether it is a better alternative to the earlier ways of dealing with the trash when taking both sides into consideration but it can be concluded that further development and work can be done here in Kenya and especially in the slums and that extra focus and means from the government can definitely be put into making the health of the people a priority and that also means helping these people with managing the tons and tons of trash that they know have to manage by themselves.

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Dear bed, my Nayuki bed

You are my home away from home.

Some might say that I spend to much time here in you and not enough time on the important things. I sometimes tell myself that too but you my Nanyuki bed is in reality a place where I spend time on some of the most important things.

In the morning you let the sun shine in on my face in a commanding but mild way giving me time to saviour the quiet before the madness of people.

You give me the time to prepare for a city and place I love and fear. To prepare myself for a day with people who give me those same feelings.

You are my safe haven in a foreign country, a place where I can seek the own quite comfort of my 24 hour machine-like mind.

You are my safe haven from a city with so much to offer and so much life and power to overwhelm and overpower.

You are a hiding place for when the monsters come to close.

This is a thank you to my bed for letting me float above my problems and keeping me grounded and safe, all in my Nanyuki bed.



Today we were put into groups and asked to make a small documentary about a person or topic of our choice. Our group discussed different ideas and these were the ones we came up with:

  • profile on James
  • profile on Frances
  • talking to girls from daraja

We agreed that we had to choose a person who is very talkative so that we could get as much information as possible. That made us not choose the young girls at Daraja because we thought they would be too shy. Instead we ended up choosing one of the teachers here called James. We had heard interesting stories about his upbringing and life and we thought that would make for a good documentary.

We then had to find a theme for the interview these were our ideas:

  • Maasai traditions
  • his life his development out of tradition. How the Maasai lifestyle has affected him.
  • family life

We ended up choosing a mixture of them but with a focus on being Maasai and the effect that cultural background has on his upbringing. With that in mind we started making the questions and figuring out the structure of the interview.


  • What is one good childhood memory that you have?
  • Where your parents around and how was your relationship with them?
  • Was your childhood difficult if so what made it that way?
  • What are some prominent traditions in your tribe?
  • Do you agree with these and practise them yourself?
    • (Do you believe in the myth that all cows belong to the Maasai?)
      • How does this come in to practise in your culture?
  • Could you tell us a moral story your elders told you when you were a child?
  • How has your upbringing and background affected who you are today?
  • What traditions have you carried with you from your childhood that you still practise today?

Structure of interview: Nickson is the main interviewer and asks all the questions written down, Cæcilia will help with follow-up questions to get more detailed answers if necessary.

One challenge we faced during the group work was James, so we had Antony call him but he did not pick up so half the group stayed on the learning platform waiting for him and the other half went out looking for him around campus. Suddenly he appeared from behind us and tells us that he has been in the room right next to us the whole time we were waiting for him and we could now proceed with the interview.

We go to find the others and then we all go down to our chosen spot for the interview.

James helped us choose the spot, which is a little shed with a roof that resembles the way the maasai build their houses.

Here we conducted a 30 minute interview where we asked james the questions above as well as a lot of other questions afterwards because his story was so interesting that we just could not stop asking further questions.