May 22, 2018 | Resource degradation
dumping at 14 falls

Heaps of litter dumped at 14 falls
Photo Courtesy: Mukuhi Wanjohi

Kenya’s Fourteen Falls once a beautiful spectacle, are now a dumping ground.  Visiting the falls, the first thing that hits you is the stench. Next, you will set your eyes on the industrial waste and plastic flowing down the falls which were once a lover’s paradise. The Falls, located in Thika, 65 kilometers North East of Nairobi off the Thika-Garissa Road and consist of 14 distinct waterfalls on the broad section of the famous Athi River.

Thika is not only home to the 14 falls but also hosts the  Kilima Mbogo hills, the Chania River, the Thika Falls and Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park which lies to the southeast. The park is a bird sanctuary and a home to wild animals. It’s not unusual to see hippos grazing out at night or giraffes crossing the street. The fourteen Falls are spectacular, with the 27-meter-deep scenery. There is a lot to see and do in Thika: boating, fishing, photography, plant identification, and bird watching are among the popular activities at the falls.

The town is also known for pineapples, expanses of pineapple farms line the roads on your way to the small town, with pineapple farmers waving you down to sample their product. Once famous as a tourist destination Thika town has now become an industrial hub. Companies that were once in the busy city Nairobi have now been moved to Thika because of space constraints in the larger city. Thika town is only 30 minutes away from the bustling Nairobi offering convenience, and access to the city. This comes at a cost to the ecosystems in this area which are now being threatened by industrial waste. What was once a clean, well-kept town is now quickly becoming a dumping ground.

A plastic bottle dumped at 14 falls

A plastic bottle dumped by people visiting the falls
Photo Courtesy: Mukuhi Wanjohi

The Ol Karia geothermal plant is also in Thika, the Delmonte farms, one of the fruit and vegetable exporters in Africa. All this development is choking Thika’s natural ecosystems since these companies are dumping waste at the expense of the priceless biodiversity endowed in this small town. The greater concern is that the government lacks a well-structured waste management system to keep these scenic iconic falls clean. Although some local fishermen have been trying to clean up the falls, it’s not enough. The waterfalls need intervention from concerned and resourceful parties. The stench and dumped waste make this destination lose its aesthetic value and with it the much-needed tourism revenue.

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