Residents face prosecution for urban farming along sewer lines.
The Nairobi County Assembly adopted the Water and Sanitation Services Policy last week.
“Urban farming will not be allowed near sewer lines. Neither will use of sewer water be allowed in urban farming,” reads the policy.
Chairman of the assembly committee on Water and Sanitation Paul Kados said on Sunday, “As seen in the mainstream media and also it is factual that some crops in the city are grown along sewer lines. The water is contaminated and toxic for human consumption.”
In May an investigation by the Star took vegetable samples from city food markets and two major supermarkets found high levels of mercury and lead.
The tests were done in two different labs, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and a private laboratory, Analab Limited for to determine a trend in the level of metals in sukuma wiki in Nairobi markets.
The tests conducted were to determine the presence (and levels) of lead, mercury, iron, copper and cadmium in kales from Nairobi main markets and supermarkets.
A 2015 consumers’ and retailers’ survey indicated that sukuma wiki is the third-most-popular vegetable after tomatoes and onions.
Other popular vegetables are cabbage, spinach and potatoes.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation director general Dr Eliud Kireger said there are many vegetable farms in Kiambu and urban farmers, like those in Utawala,supply vegetables to the markets.
“Some farmers deliberately puncture the sewer lines. They use the sewage water as fertiliser and yet it contains microbes that cause disease,” he said.
Vegetables also contain metals because the water from the sewage is combined with chemicals from industrial parks. These chemicals washed into the drainage system have paint and effluent from car washes, which have lead. “All these are absorbed into the vegetables and we end up eating them,” Kieger explained.
The Water and Sanitation Services Policy will at least put an end to farming along sewer lines.