On a hot October day, a little hazzle and motion attracted the attention of passers-by at the Mukuru settlement in Nairobi. A miscellaneous grouping of people had gathered to celebrate the opening of a Bio Centre in the Mukuru slum. The event was organized by Umande Trust, a partner organization of Wimma Liikuttaa ry. The Embassy of Finland in Nairobi was present at the celebrations as a guest of honor.
The bio centres in Mukuru and Kibera are a partnership project between Wimma Liikuttaa ry and Umande Trust, and the aim is to improve access of urban communities and school children to safe, adequate and affordable bio-sanitation and water services. Nairobi’s informal and unplanned settlements are characterized by exclusion, overcrowding and unhealthy conditions.
The majority of the almost half a million residents in Kibera and Mukuru have no access to decent and adequate sanitation. Many rely on filled-up latrines and open spaces. According to Wimma Liikuttaa ry, existing pit latrines are over-subscribed and many out of use after being filled. Limited access to sanitation facilities and water services is primarily induced due to lack of access and difficulty in establishing formalized water and sewer lines, but also due to landlords’ unwillingness to invest in areas faced by possible, yet largely unrealized, evictions. The prevalence of water-borne and related diseases is high in the settlements compared to other illnesses because of poor sanitation. Majority of the households buy water from kiosks and vendors at higher prices than what the water company normally charges.
The Bio Centre, a community facility, provides toilets and showers for men, women, children and the disabled at an affordable price. The human waste is converted into biogas which is used for heating the bathing water as well as for cooking. The second floor of the center can be used by the community for income generation purposes, such as rental offices, residential rooms etc. In order to fully benefit from the improved sanitation facilities and to enhance the health of the communities, the project strongly focuses on hygiene promotion. The ownership of the project is guaranteed by a strong involvement of the beneficiaries in implementation and their capacity building in several aspects of the project management.
The project started in January 2011 and will run until the end of 2013. The total budget of the project is nearly 60,000 euros, of which 85 % is funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and 15 % by Wimma Liikuttaa ry.