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A woman preparing food at a market
Nairobi, Kenya

Residents Continue To Suffer as Air Quality Worsens in Nairobi, Kenya

On a sunny afternoon at Kihara Sub-County Hospital in the outskirts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Mary Wangeci walks into the hospital compound with her newborn baby boy for medical attention. The baby is underweight, and Wangeci says that he’s been sickly since his birth, eight days ago.

At the hospital, the nurse-in-charge Mercy Gathoni receives them and shows Wangeci to the hospital pediatrician. Wangeci, who declined to have her photos taken, is also having difficulty breathing and says that she has had the same issue since she was expecting her baby.

The baby is underweight as confirmed by the hospital’s pediatrician, and as experts explain, this is largely contributed to by air pollution, even though there are no scientific tests that have been done on Wangeci or her baby to prove that as the exact cause of their ailments.

Wangeci, who is a secondhand clothes dealer, might have been exposed to air pollutants from vehicle emissions, burning waste and industrial emissions from industries in Nairobi. The pollutants are measured through particulate matter and can be 10 micrometers or smaller (PM10), or 2.5 micrometers or smaller (PM2.5).

A nurse preforming an ultra sound on a pregnant woman
A pregnant woman does an ultrasound to check on her baby's wellness / Credit: Dominic Kirui.
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This story was produced with support from Internews' Earth Journalism Network. It was first published in Talk Africa on December 1, 2023. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Banner image: A woman cooks at her food kiosk next to a busy bus stage at Cabanas in Nairobi, Kenya. She inhales carbon from both charcoal and exhaust emissions and says it's affected her health / Credit: Talk Africa.