Improving management of manually emptied pit latrine waste in Nairobi’s urban informal settlements
Jordan Brands, Leandra Rhodes-Dicker, Wali Mwalugongo, Ruthie Rosenberg, Lindsay Stradley, David AuerbachSanergy has offered reliable, non-sewered sanitation services in Nairobi, Kenya through the implementation of container-based, urine-diverting dry toilets. However, there remains a large volume of untreated faecal waste in urban informal settlements due to poorly managed pit latrines. With limited space in the settlements to bury old pits and dig new ones, management of faecal sludge requires manual pit emptying and safe discharge. Sanergy piloted the Mtaa Fresh project in the settlement of Mukuru Kwa Njenga, establishing a waste transfer station where manual pit emptiers could safely and reliably dispose of pit latrine contents. The most important factors in the successful implementation of this station were, first, the relationship established between Sanergy and the pit emptiers and, second, Sanergy’s commitment to iterating as new insights emerged. The relationship with the emptiers impacted the location, design, and adoption of the site, and aided in the formalization of a pit emptiers’ community-based organization. The commitment to iterating enabled Sanergy to respond to learnings gained from the emptiers. Additional factors that ensured the success of Mtaa Fresh included the implementation of full-time staff, security when the site is closed, support from local authorities, and an expansion to improve management of faecal sludge and trash. Improvements trialled during the expansion aim to minimize operation and maintenance costs, but sustainability will still rely on government support and external funding.
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