Reinventing Effluent Management in the Sugar Industry in the Nyando Basin, Kenya: From End-of-Pipe to Integrated Approaches

Jane Nyakang’o, Otienoh Oguge, Jones Agwata


The industrial pollution discharge into the river basins of Lake Victoria in Kenya has been a major environmental management issue. Much of this discharge comes from the sugar mills and molasses distilleries in the Nyando River Basin. Voluntary approaches to pollution prevention have been on spotlight in the recent years as a viable option for enabling industries to meet, even surpass, statutory effluent discharge standards. Central to these approaches is use of cleaner production technologies and practices which have been experimented with in the Nyando River Basin since 2009. However, the potential of this voluntary ecological transformation tool to deliver economic and ecological advantages in a Kenyan perspective has not been examined. Using the case of the sugar industry in the Nyando Basin in Western Kenya, this article explores the benefits to firms of integrating cleaner production with end-of-pipe approaches in effluent management. The theoretical underpinning of the analysis is the Ecological Modernisation paradigm, owing to its emphasis on voluntarism and integrated approaches to pollution management that portend double-dividends of reduced expenses and pollution loads. The results indicate that companies integrating cleaner production with end-of-pipe treatment are likely to reduce pollution loads, register high water productivity and enhance compliance with effluent discharge standards. In addition to these improved environmental performance, they are likely to record financial rewards. It is concluded that cleaner production is a potential tool to promote pollution prevention. However, its current implementation framework based on time-bound donor-funded projects falls short of inducing a transformational culture towards a preventative pollution regime.

Keywords: Industrial effluent, pollution prevention, cleaner production, ecological modernisation

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ISSN (Paper)2224-6096 ISSN (Online)2225-0581

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