The Dangerous River – a writing by Jackton Yewa

Its being said that 80% of rivers all over the world are polluted! Whether
this is true or not it depends with which river is near you.Mathare slums
Nairobi, there is a river that has changed its colour within a short period.

In early 90s,Mathare river-as its well known by the locals, was just a good
sight to watch, children used to swim in it, with older ones with their
hocks, fishing in it. The river was full of activities, with women washing
their clothes or fetching water from this river. Since it was in the middle
of the slum it was a very resourceful river to the locals. Even animals
could be seen freely enjoying their drinks as the river passes between the
slums, majestically not hurrying not hesitating, from the source of Karura
forest down to the slums.

At night, frogs would be heard keeping it alive with the croaking melodies
since most of the slum houses where of mudwalls,this river was also useful
during construction of these houses. It was just a  blessing for this poor
slum dwellers of the slum houses were of mudwalls,this river was also
usefull.But the picture that meet your eyes now is a different kind of
picture. The lively river is not that light brown one, that has a sharp
smell of sewage. You cannot even sit on its banks to stare it. At night, the
choir of frogs heard, but a shocking death silence.

The water is neither good for swimming nor even touching! Ducks, dogs,goats
and sheep’s that were once a common site in the banks of the river, now they
avoid it like a plague. Even the dirtiest animal like pig feels
uncomfortable in this water. The river now produces a sharp adour that is
unhealthy to the lungs and which can cause untold diseases to the unaware
slum dwellers. This river is no longer a blessing to the locals but a haven
of all kind of diseases.

All the sewage pipes around the river have been turned loose, all facing the
river. The river now serves as a dumping site for the slum and its environs
even those hospitals that are full of quacks that are found in every corner
of the slum disposes their needles and aborted babies’ into then river. Its
a common site to see the locals brewers of illegal drinks called changaa,
pouring their waste to this river.

So in a matter of only a decade, this river has turned from the useful river
to the poisonous one that is harmful to those near it and far.

Last year the government tried to come to the rescue of this river but did
too little for a short time. The ministry of Environment under the National
Environmental Management Authority (NEEMA) founded this programme of
employing youths to clean this river and many more such river. This program
me called Kazi Kwa Vijana didn’t take long due to corruption in the
ministry. Youths were not paid on time and the programme didn’t take long
not even a year.

So this river continues to be a dumping site for many .Each year it becomes
worse and worse.

The idea of cleaning the river was good but its implementation was not well
organized.This cleaning should not be seasonal, but it should be a continued

Secondly, all those sewage system that faces the river should be blocked or
diverted to another route to avoid wastes going to the river.

Thirdly, the local needs to be educated on  the importance of a clean river
near them.

This will help to keep it clean. A situation whereby the locals throw
garbage at night when they are not seen will be avoided all the garbage’s
should be channeled to a specific spot, not this river and those quacks,
that are good in back door abortion and throwing everything including the
dead fetus in the river should be dealt with seriously by law.

And lastly, youths should be given this opportunity to clean the river. This
should be a permanent job that even involves planting of trees on its banks.
These youths should be provided with proper tools and materials for this

If the government can invest in this, then we would have help the existing
and the new generation to come, causes of lungs infections will decrease
drastically among this poor slum dwellers and the helpless children. If this
river can be restored to its original status, then not only humans will be
happy but even animals would have appreciated this gestures.

Jackton Yewa



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