Children plant bamboo to combat dire air pollution from Kenya’s biggest dumpsite

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. dumpsite / ˈdʌmpˌsaɪt / (n.) – an area where waste, such as garbage or rubbish, is disposed of, often in large quantities

    The city council is planning to close down the old dumpsite and establish a modern recycling facility in its place.

  2. foul-smelling / ˌfaʊlˈsmɛl ɪŋ / (adj.) – a very unpleasant or disgusting odor

    The foul-smelling fumes from the nearby factory made it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities in the neighborhood.

  3. asthma / ˈæz mə / (n.) – a medical condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to difficulty in breathing, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest

    She carries medicine with her at all times to manage her asthma symptoms and prevent sudden attacks.

  4. mitigate / ˈmɪt ɪˌgeɪt / (v.) – to make something less severe, harmful, or painful

    Planting trees around the school premises helped mitigate the effects of air pollution from the nearby industrial area.

  5. seedling / ˈsid lɪŋ / (n.) – a young plant that has recently sprouted from a seed

    The gardener took care of the seedlings until they were strong enough to be transferred into the garden beds.


Read the text below.

A school right next to Kenya’s largest dumpsite has started planting bamboo to improve air quality. Foul-smelling fumes from the waste have been affecting the students’ health.

More than 100 bamboo trees dot the mini forest created around the Dandora Secondary School, located east of Kenya’s capital Nairobi next to the country’s largest dumpsite.

The dump was declared full 23 years ago, yet hundreds of trucks still drive in daily to heap more waste.

“The dumpsite produces gas in the morning and also in the afternoon. Seeing is becoming a problem in the morning. They produce mist. They produce fog which really pollutes the environment, produces bad smells. It seems as if someone is living in a toilet whereby you are in a classroom, funny enough,” complains 17-year-old student Allan Sila.

“But some of the challenges that really affect us is the smell coming out from dumpsite, the smoke. Burning of those elements in there really produces smoke that also triggers asthma. Asthma is a disease that is commonly known in Dandora Secondary School.” So this bamboo project is their way of fighting back.

“My motivation for initiating bamboo project in the school was to mitigate the effects of the dumpsite. It really pollutes the air that we breathe and with that, I know it is going to reduce the cases of respiratory infections amongst the people in Dandora community,” says Principal Eutychus Maina.

Bamboo trees are hailed as one of nature’s finest air purifiers, according to UNESCO. The seedlings planted in August last year are slowly towering high against the suffocating fumes.

The public-funded school has faced its fair share of challenges. They rely on donations to afford the seedlings that retail at 400 Kenya shillings ($3) each. But the school management is determined to keep going until the entire 900-meter wall that separates it and the dumpsite is covered by bamboo trees.

Dandora School is also planting other species of trees to create better air circulation. They have planted more than 4,000 trees of different species, which include jacaranda and grevillea.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • In your opinion, why is it crucial for schools to provide a healthy and clean environment for students? Discuss.
  • Do schools in your country provide a healthy and clean environment to students? What makes you say so? How has a healthy and clean school environment personally affected your life as a student? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What challenges do schools in your country commonly face? Are you satisfied with how the government is responding to those challenges? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • As a student, did you feel that your school was determined to give solutions to the existing problems in your school? Why or why not? Discuss.