Private Project

There's no waste in Boma

Located in Nairobi's outskirt between the slums of Korogocho and Dandora, Boma is the biggest dumping site in East Africa. Here thousand of people make a living everyday thanks to the collecting and reselling of waste materials coming from every area of the capital city. The documentary explores the position of Boma's workers in the waste economy and how they are actively involved in it: narratives, activities, desires and values of the workers highlight how inequalities inform their lives as well as their agency in achieving life projects. Far from being "matter out of place," in Boma "waste is the most important thing" and an opportunity to generate value and hope for the future.

  • Federico Russo
  • Federico Russo
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Student
  • Runtime:
    55 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Swahili
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Ethnografilm Festival Paris
    April 22, 2022
  • Laboratorio Para Todos
    April 30, 2022
Director Biography - Federico Russo

Graduate student in the Anthropology Program at Ca' Foscari University of Venice.

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Director Statement

This documentary was shot between June and October 2019. It is my first documentary and it was realized thanks to the collaboration and the welcome of the workers of Boma. In spite the fact that the dumping site of Dandora belongs to the City County of Nairobi, all the people who collect, sort and resell the materials can be consider as informal workers or jua kali. They created bazes or "offices" where they are free to come and achieve what they see as a “good life.” They cope and “help each other like a family” giving shape to a complex waste economy, where various economic and social interests meet and collide. Far from me to consider them just as victims of inequalities and injustices, I came to realize their future is open ended, as the future of Boma itself is, and this often place them in a vulnerable position. In order to try to be part of their community I decided to work with them and follow their activities and their discourses, but nothing was strictly planned. I always made sure they were willing to take part in my project and to dedicate their time to me.