NAIROBI, Mar 29 (IPS) – Talk about foul foundations: the Katwekera Tosha Bio Centre is built on the stuff that goes into toilets. This community centre in the Nairobi slum of Kibera goes well beyond solving sanitation problems – it is a model for green energy, a meeting place for locals, and turning a profit for its operators.
The dire sanitation systems available to the hundreds of thousands living in Kibera, often called Africa’s biggest slum, has been well-documented.
Less talked about than the infamous flying toilets – bags full of faeces tossed as far as possible, neighbours beware! – is the challenge of household energy for the urban poor.
The high, and rising cost of fuel – kerosene, paraffin, charcoal, firewood – takes an enormous bite out of the income of poor households. The use of polluting energy sources in closed spaces levies an additional charge against the health of the poor; the wider environmental implications of fossil fuels or inefficiently burned biomass completes a glum accounting.
Every challenge an opportunity
“The Umande Trust is a rights-based agency which believes that modest resources, strategically invested in support of community-led initiatives, can significantly improve access to water and sanitation for all,” says Paul Muchire, the Trust’s communication manager.