Kenya has been pushed into a situation where the need for improved sanitation and hygiene requires innovation and creative methods to tackle the problems
Access to safe human waste disposal methods is crucial for the health and well-being of people. Lack of access to safe human waste disposal facilities leads to higher costs to the community through pollution of rivers, ground water and higher incidence of air and water borne diseases. Other costs include reduced incomes as a result of disease and lower educational outcomes.
In slums near Nairobi, Kenya, researchers are testing how subsidizing the cost of connecting to the sewer system and providing information about the health benefits of improved sanitation affects the number of landlords who connect to the sewer system.
Nationally, 61 percent of the population has access to improved methods of waste disposal. Improved waste disposal modes include connection to main sewer, septic tank, cesspit, Ventilated-Improved Pit (VIP) latrine, and covered pit latrine. Unimproved methods include uncovered pit latrine, bucket latrine, bush and other sources.
People living in rural areas have over two times more dependence on unimproved sanitation than their urban counterparts. Pit latrines in Kenya are the most common methods of waste disposal with 74 percent of Kenyans using them (VIP latrines are used by 5 percent; covered latrines are used by 48 percent; and uncovered latrines are used by 21 percent). A sizeable population (17.5 percent) still uses the bush to dispose human waste.
Sanitation Access In Kenya
Estimates on access to private, improved sanitation in Kenya, including sewerage by World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) 2015, indicate that only 30 per cent (31 per cent of urban and 30 per cent of rural), which is over 21 million people in Kenya, still use unsanitary or shared latrines.
In rural areas, open defecation was estimated to be still practised by 12% of the population. The 2015 report by the Water and Sanitation Regulatory Board did not include any figures on access to sanitation in the broad sense, but only an estimate of access to sewerage in urban areas, which was estimated at 16%.
In 2006–2007 it had been reported that half of the Kenyan population within the service area of 55 WSPs had access to improved sanitation facilities (this definition includes flush, pour flush toilets connected to a piped system, septic tanks, VIP latrines and pit latrines). In Nairobi, sanitation coverage was about 23% in 2006–2007.The Kenyan Integrated Household Budget Survey of 2006 reported a much higher sanitation coverage 84%, including shared latrines and shallow pit latrines.
Approximately 18 per cent of rural populations in the country practice open defecation. However, more needs to be done to address the sanitation challenge, especially since a percentage of the population still do not have access to basic toilets and one in seven people worldwide, still practice open defecation.
Safe sanitation provides hope to Kenyans living under the poverty line that women and men can undertake initiatives to mobilise their assets.
First ODF County - Busia
Busia County has been certified as the first county in Kenya to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Isiolo and Siaya and other counties, have made good progress towards becoming ODF, though there is more work to be done before the whole country achieves this status.
World Vision Kenya has been carrying out sanitation interventions as part of its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programming (WASH). The Ministry of Health has advocated for the use of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), which is a methodology that empowers the community to take care of its own sanitation. It is a no-subsidy approach, where it advocates for no supply or giving the community any form of materials or cash to help them to construct latrines at the household level. The community is instead encouraged to use locally available materials to erect low cost latrines. The community is triggered through evoking feelings of shame and disgust about open defecation, to construct latrines using locally-available, materials. In financial year 2016, WV Kenya carried out sanitation activities in 30 Area Development Programs (ADPs) and were able to reach 72,707 beneficiaries that includes 15,994 women, 14,724 men, 23,996 girls and 17,993 boys in 22 counties in Kenya. Since 2011, the organisation has managed to get 791 villages to be “open defecation free” in Kitui, Kilifi, Nakuru, Baringo, Busia, West Pokot, Kajiado, Makueni and Baringo counties.
The total number of households and the population in the ODF villages are 39,550 and 237,300, respectively. World Vision USA, Stone Family Foundation, UNICEF and the Millenium Water Alliance, have been funding ODF projects for the WASH sector in WV Kenya.
Kenya’s Sanitation Reforms
Kenya launched on 18 May, 2016 four sanitation and hygiene policies to be in line with the SDGS and Kenya’s other global and regional WASH commitments:
l Kenya Environmental Sanitation and
Hygiene Strategic Framework (2016
l Kenya Environmental Sanitation and
Hygiene Policy (2016 – 2020)
l National ODF Kenya 2020 Campaign
l Prototype County Kenya
Environmental Health and Sanitation
Kenya Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Strategic Framework (KESSF) 2016-2020
The KESSF is the national guide for state and non-state actors at both national and county levels on water, sanitation and hygiene-related topics. The framework addresses the bottlenecks to achieving universal access to improved sanitation and eradication of open defecation in Kenya. It provides a framework for operational planning for multi-sectorial interventions and equitable delivery of sanitation services throughout Kenya.
Kenya Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Policy (KESHP) 2016-2020
The KESHP provides broad guidelines to state and non-state actors including civil society organizations, development partners, private sector, communities, households and individuals at all levels to ensure universal access to improved sanitation as well as clean, healthy and sustainable living environment for improved quality of life of Kenyans.
National ODF Kenya 2020 Campaign Framework
The National ODF Kenya 2020 Campaign Framework takes into account the reality that sanitation is a devolved function in the new Constitution, therefore at County and local levels, the Campaign will entail mapping and securing commitment from partners and supporting them in developing work-plans and securing resources for attaining ODF Kenya by 2020.
Prototype County Kenya Environmental Health and Sanitation Bill
The purpose of this Prototype County Environmental Health and Sanitation Bill is to assist and guide County Governments in coming up with the necessary enabling county legislation for the implementation of Articles 43(1)(b) and 42 of the Constitution and to enable county governments to effectively execute the sanitation and environmental health related functions and powers vested in them by the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.
Kenya hopes to reach universal sanitation coverage by 2030 and to end open defecation by 2020. But, achieving universal improved sanitation coverage requires a paradigm shift in policies, technologies and mindsets.
Innovation In Sanitation
Kenyans have resorted to innovating ingenious ways of handling sanitation in the country. From compost toilets to sawdust toilets, the need for improved sanitation has brought about quite a few notable advancements.
Ecotact’s Ikotoilet concept -- Sustainable sanitation services in Kenya. Ecotact is a Nairobi-based company established in 2008 to improve the urban landscape for low-income communities through environmentally responsible projects in sanitation and housing. Under the Ikotoilet project, Ecotact builds and operates high-quality, public pay-per-use toilet and shower facilities. Customers pay five shillings ($0.06 USD) to use a facility. Ecotact has 29 units operating across 12 municipalities, including two in the slums of Mathare and Kawangare, Its facilities saw more than four million uses in 2009 and five million uses in 2010. Ecotact is defining a new standard of hygiene in target communities, reducing urban pollution from human waste, generating employment opportunities for low-income individuals, and restoring dignity to the provision of sanitation services.
The compost toilet project is a partnership with Ecofinder Kenya for the purpose of building ecological sanitation toilets (compost toilets) for communities in the Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya. The compost toilets provide valuable organic fertiliser that can be used to improve local, small-scale farming, as well as providing basic sanitation in a region where water borne diseases from lack of sanitation are rife.In dry compost toilets the solids and liquids are separated to assist in the aerobic decomposition process. If liquids are mixed with solids the composting process turns into an anaerobic process which slows down the decomposition rate dramatically. Solids are covered with sawdust to support the aerobic process, absorb liquids, and to reduce odor. Urine is collected and later used as a nitrogen rich fertilizer in the garden and is also turned into ammonia which is a powerful and natural cleaning agent that is used in the toilets. After a toilet is filled, the barrel that has collected the solid waste is removed from the toilet area, covered, and stored for four weeks. After four weeks have passed the barrel is safe to open and the compost is moved to a larger compost pile. After 6-12 months in the pile the human compost (humanure) is ready and safe to use.
X-Runner, Kenya has developed a toilet that works using sawdust rather than water. It can fit in small spaces, is as easy to install in a home as a chair, and doesn’t require a sewage system. People don’t buy X-Runner’s toilets, they lease them which then reduces the upfront costs and ensures they are maintained properly. The toilets have two holes — one for urine and one for feces. Feces are collected in a tank underneath the sitting platform, while urine is directed into the ground or into an additional container. Once a week, X-Runner’s service truck picks up the feces and transports it to a local composting facility for processing. X-Runner is still honing its composting process, but the goal is to quickly transform the material into safe, pathogen-free, nutrient-rich compost.
Organisations Leading The Sanitation Crusade In Kenya
Sanergy - Turning Waste
This company is turning poop into profit.
Sanergy installs toilets in impoverished areas in Nairobi, Kenya and then turns the human waste into organic fertilizer to sell to farms.
Over the past five years, Sanergy has placed more than 700 toilets across nine slums in Nairobi, serving around 30,000 people every day and treating more than 8,000 metric tons of waste.
In Kenya, only 30 percent of people have access to safe sanitation, according to the UN – and 13 percent, or more than 6 million people, have no choice but to defecate in the open.
These toilets are particularly efficient because they use sawdust rather than water.
After residents use the restroom, they cover the waste with sawdust. It’s safely contained, collected and reused later on.
Every one or two days, Sanergy staff collects the waste and they bring it to their facility, where they convert the waste into products such as organic fertilizer or insect-based animal feed, to sell to local farmers.
The fertilizer, which can be used for flower or vegetable crops, has been shown to increase crop yields by about 30 percent, according to Brown.
Sanergy employs local residents in its waste operations, in everything from waste collection and processing, to sales and marketing. Around 90 percent of the staff is Kenyan.
The Sanergy toilets are providing business opportunities to residents in an area where there’s a 40 percent unemployment rate, according to the website.
Residents buy the toilets from Sanergy for $350, and then manage them as a small business, charging customers around 5 cents per use. The operators provide soap, water and toilet paper, and keep any profits, making about $1,000 per year.
The company hopes other groups and organizations will replicate their model in slums worldwide.
Oxfam - Keyna
Five years ago Oxfam began a pilot project to develop a household toilet for residents living in slums. There are no sewers, and complex land issues and a lack of space conspire to prevent the majority of slum dwellers from accessing a toilet near to their home. This presents major public health problems and safety issues, as it is often not safe to go out after dark, especially for women and children.
Our solution was a portable toilet that sits in the corner of the house - similar to a camping toilet but without the chemicals, and affordable to households whose average monthly income is less than $100 a month. A small scale pilot in 2011 was successful in confirming the social acceptability of the concept. Collection and disposal of waste for 100 participating families was manageable, principally because we had a grant and money to tackle it.
However it was abundantly clear as we concluded the pilot, that for it to lead to anything that could be scalable, the whole sanitation value chain needed to be analysed and incentivised. We envisaged a service collection model with waste conversion to bio-fuel, organic fertiliser or other bi-products that had an economic value. I even attended a briquettors conference and was laughed at when I described my vision of barbequing on briquettes made from human waste.
Eventually however I found like minded people; a group of graduates from Massachusetts Institute of Technology had formed a social enterprise called Sanergy.
Sanivation is currently operating in Kenya, placing mobile toilets at households and sending a collection agent to pick up the buckets of waste twice a week. The waste is then taken to the Sanivation center, where a solar concentrator heats the biosolids over 70 degrees Celsius to remove pathogens in the waste. The waste is then further dehydrated in an agglomerator, and turned into charcoal briquettes that are used as fuel for burning.
The treatment facility opened in September 2015 at Sanctuary Farm in Naivasha, Kenya. In October 2016 a revamped and expanded treatment system was introduced that boosted capacity by 300%. The overall goal is service for a million homes in Kenya by 2020.
Sanivation started as an Engineers Without Borders trip in 2011, where the team members worked with the Red Cross in Chile after the 2010 earthquake. Woods was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the Energy sector for 2016, and the Sanivation project has also been featured in Fast Company and at ASME’s ISHOW. This is a great project that helps to illustrate my idea that engineering should be focused on making the world a better place, and it also takes existing technology and easily installs it into new applications. The health problems associated with sanitation and burning kerosene for fuel are huge and not being fixed and barely being examined on a global scale. Black market deforestation for charcoal production is also becoming an issue. Small projects with big ambitions like Sanivation will be required more and more in the coming decades.
© 2016 Sulabh Swachh Bharat. All Right Reserved