This research project assesses and communicates the impacts of water pollution on communities and ecosystems along Athi River, Kenya. It is 698kms long, flows southeast with its source in Ngong Hills, and its delta along the Indian Ocean coastline. It drains an area of 38,256 km2 and is a major water source to millions of people and several ecosystems including Tsavo National Park.
However, over the past 15 years, it has been on the receiving end of Nairobi’s waste. All sorts of the garbage get dumped into it, especially plastic waste and clothing items. This trash floats downstream, causing division between rural farmers and the city residents. Furthermore, a combination of grey and black water from raw sewage and d d industrial waste is constantly dumped into the river, untreated and unchecked.
This expedition, which is on its second stage, trekked 260kms downstream of the middle section of the river in December 2020. We measured and mapped the presence of heavy metals such as zinc, lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. In addition, we analyzed faecal coliforms within the river and the water quality parameters. This information, combined with an assessment of bird species and aquatic invertebrates, provides a clear picture of the status of the riverine ecosystems. Our research will be shared with relevant government bodies to inform environmental decisions, such as clean up and restoration efforts. Eventually, this will lead to an improvement of the river, a vital ecosystem that connects the city residents to the rural farmers.
This project is sponsored by IdeaWild, National Geographic Society, Catawba College (USA)