Actions as simple as going to the bathroom or having energy to cook, for many, they are not at all. In Kenya, for example, 7 out of 10 city dwellers do not have a bathroom at home, while virtually the only options for eating hot are charcoal or kerosene. To fill the two gaps arises Sanivation, a circular economy initiative that installs free toilets to later collect faeces and turn them into biofuel for cooking.

With ongoing projects in Naivahsa and Kakuma refugee campsIn northwest Kenya, this idea came from Andrew Foote and Emily Woods. With him, what they wanted was to contribute to greater dignity for the populations of East Africa, by offering them a private bathroom. Along with this objective, at least two others: improving the environmental conditions of the area, as well as the health of its inhabitants.

And little by little, the objectives are achieved. They do, for example, in terms of reduction in deaths from diarrhea due to lack of health infrastructure adequate. It is estimated that over 4,000 children under the age of five die every day in developing countries from this cause. In addition, converting faeces into a natural substitute for charcoal and kerosene not only reduces health risks to the population, but also prevents contamination of water sources and reduces CO2 emissions.

However, the benefits of the idea go to more. By offering an alternative and clean source of energy to the population, every time they turn to it, it is a battle won against deforestation. This constitutes a major threat for this country, which retains only 5% of its forest mass. As calculated by this company, the use of one ton of biofuel made from human faeces prevents the felling of 88 trees. In addition, this amount covers the fuel needs of 800 community members.

But how does this initiative work? Basically, the company started by developing a process to treat the feces so that they could be used without a health risk, once they were converted into alternative charcoal briquettes. With this, to collect the necessary raw material, the company installs free toilets with containers in the houses of its area of ​​influence. Every two weeks, the workers of the company collect the generated waste to transfer it to the treatment plant, where it is subjected to a high temperature process. With this, the fuel suitable for its use would be produced, which is also completely odorless.

Although those participating in this initiative have to pay a monthly amount, the cost is low compared to that of charcoal. In fact, it’s estimated that about a third of a family’s income is spent on cooking fuel, meaning the savings are considerable. There is also the fact of having private toilets, which increases the safety of women and children, as well as being a real turnaround in terms of hygiene and privacy.

For all these reasons, others will be added to the two projects in which this concept is already under development. This company’s forecasts go through extend this circular economy commitment to different urban areas and refugee camps from East Africa. In them, they hope that by 2020 a million people will have toilets to relieve themselves and affordable, sustainable and safe fuel to prepare their food.


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