Transforming Kenya’s approach to sanitation

Across Kenya, 70% of people lack access to basic sanitation solutions and poor sanitation accounts for 40% of deaths among children under five (World Bank, 2020). Kenya’s growing population has pushed people into informal and low- income settlements, where there is little or no access to centralised piped water or sanitation. Onsite sanitation such as pit latrines are widely used but most don’t safely treat human waste, risking people’s health and polluting the environment.

A UK-Kenya collaboration has identified a new cost-effective way to safely treat human waste and convert it into useful resources using black soldier flies. Working with local communities, researchers collect human waste from container-based sanitation facilities. The collected human waste is transported to a processing plant where it’s converted into fertiliser and useful proteins using the novel black soldier fly technology.

The technology was successfully piloted at a primary school in 2018 and is now operating in other schools and communities. The project has led to the establishment of Kenya’s first Sanitation Research Centre, a 20-acre facility within Meru University of Science and Technology training students in Faecal Sludge Management research with the aim of increasing the uptake of non-sewered sanitation initiatives in Kenya.

The researchers are playing a leading role in informing policy in Kenya, where support is growing for non-sewered sanitation solutions. Next the team want to scale up the technology to create an established circular economy and extend its impact into Kenya developing countries.

Our intervention has not only developed a cost-effective technology for handling human waste but also a business model that helps commercial deployment as new products are introduced to the Kenyan market and made available to farmers.

Professor Prasanta Dey, Aston University

Initially supported by the Newton Utafiti Fund through British Council, Kenyan researcher Joy Riungu was then supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Newton-funded Leaders in Innovation Fellowship training programme to commercialise the invention.

Paradigm shift in faecal sludge management in Kenya for environmental management and food security

Project leads: Professor Prasanta Dey, Aston University, UK and Dr Joy Riungu, Meru University of Science and Technology, Kenya

Delivery partners: British Council, UK and the National Research Fund, Kenya

SDG goals icons - Clean water and sanitation