At the Dandora Dump
Contemporary Issues, first prize stories
A woman sits on bags of waste she has salvaged, at the Dandora municipal dump, outside Nairobi, Kenya. She said that she enjoys looking at books, even industrial catalogues, as a break from picking up garbage.
The dumpsite, some 8 km from the center of the Kenyan capital, is one of the largest rubbish dumps in Africa. People living in the slum area around the site have been found to suffer from increased levels of lead in their blood, as well as above normal incidence of kidney disease and cancer. Gases rising from decomposing waste lead to high rates of respiratory disease.
Despite the health risks, between 6,000 and 10,000 people earn a living from the dumpsite, seeking food waste, scavenging goods for resale, or separating materials for recycling. Informal cartels run the recycling operation, paying pickers around €2 a day.
Opened in 1975, the dump should—under international environmental laws—have been closed after 15 years. It remains in use, despite being declared full in 2001.
Redux Images for Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
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About the photographer
Micah Albert is a freelance documentary photographer represented by Redux Pictures photo agency. Based in northern California, he specializes in and is passionate about difficult-to-access regions and the ensuing, and often times under-covered, issues.
He received his B.A. from Point Loma Nazarene University’s Keller Visual Art Center in Graphic Communications in 2002. Since 2005, Micah has worked on documenting projects including the global food crisis in Yemen, Dinka cattle camps in South Sudan, insecurity and unrest in Darfur refugee camps in Chad, marginalized Kurds living in Syria, undocumented refugees living in Jordan, gender-based violence in rebel-controlled territories in DR Congo, post-election unrest in Kenya, and overfishing practices in Tanzania.
His clients include The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, BBC, The Washington Times, National Geographic Traveler, and many others. He currently lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and daughter.