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Total sanitation in Nakuru slums

Realising the right to total sanitation in Nakuru’s slums

Many of us are used to having a toilet in our homes. Some of us have two or three. In the Nakuru slums, one toilet - a simple pit latrine - is shared by up to 240 people. Imagine what that must be like.

Practical Action's ambitious project, funded by Comic Relief, will improve the quality of life for slum communities of 190,000 people, by providing access to safe, hygenic toilets and hand washing facilities.

In addition the project will establish mechanisms and capacity within local institutions to enable them to implement this approach in the remaining slums in Nakuru and more widely across Kenya.

Country: Kenya
Locations: Kaptembwo and Rhonda low-income settlements of Nakuru Municipality
Date: January 2012 – March 2015
Project Manager: Patrick Mwanzia
Implementing Partner: Umande Trust
Funder: Comic Relief

Evaluation highlights: Realising the Right to Total Sanitation in Nakuru, Kenya

An overview of the Realising the Right to Total Sanitation project that ran in Nakuru, Kenya from 2012 to 2015, including key activities and innovations, challenges faced and lessons for future practice.

Nakuru is the fourth largest town in Kenya and the capital of the Rift Valley province. The current population of Nakuru is estimated at 600,000 of whom 190,000 live in the slums of Rhonda and Kaptembwo. Currently, less than 10% of residents here have access to sufficient sanitation facilities of adequate quality. The main sanitation facilities are simple pit latrines. On average 37 people share a latrine, but in the worst cases a single latrine is shared by more than 200 people. Due to poor construction, low coverage, poor maintenance, improper use and dilapidation, open defecation still happens. Women have problems disposing of sanitary waste for themselves and children.

These conditions form the perfect environment for diseases and poverty to flourish. Children have multiple illnesses which has a detrimental impact on their health, development and education. People do not like these conditions, but have become resigned to them because they can’t see how the situation can be improved. Our work aims to help them realise the community can do to address the problem themselves.

Community led total sanitation

What is needed is a solution which lasts and becomes part of normal life. We are adopting a Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach to help trigger residents and landlords alike to take action. The ultimate aim is to create access to sanitation and hygiene facilities for all, and to ensure that everyone in the community effectively use and look after their toilets.

Working with local authorities and landlords

Although the Municipal Council have set by-laws requiring all landlords to provide on-site sanitation, there is little incentive for the landlords to invest in their properties because the tenants are very poor and can only afford low rents. Providing landlords with access to loans and toilets appropriate to this situation will enable them to meet the sanitation requirements whilst still keeping rents affordable. To do this we are working with landlords, financial institutions and the private sector to develop new, affordable credit schemes and loan cost-recovery plans.

Community health volunteers

To support this, we will work with 140 community health volunteers, at least 100 artisans, and at least 20 pit emptiers who are all critical to making the system work effectively. Pit emptiers are predominantly young men who work emptying and cleaning pit latrines, constructing pit latrines or removing solid waste and blockages from latrines and drains. These workers provide a critical public service and yet currently face a myriad of problems. They lack both finance and awareness of appropriate technologies for sanitation. They suffer stigma and discrimination. Providing them with training to provide the services the community requires is a key part of this project. It will improve their own health, will enable them to provide an essential service to their community and raise their status.

By the end of this project

  • There will be no open defecation or flying-toilets in 4 out of 6 zones in the settlements (8 villages out of 13).
  • 60% of residents have access to adequate on-plot sanitation (from 10%) and at-point hand-washing facilities (from 15%) and the communities have the organisational capacity and financial access to complete the remaining 40% after project.

The project will improve the environment and lives of the 190,000 people living in the slums of Ronda and Kaptembwo. By the end of the project 60% of the residents will have access to good standard toilet (secure, safe, hygienic, well maintained, with hand-washing facilities, etc). This will rise to 100% within a year of the end of the project.

By the end of the project, 2,690 new toilets will have been constructed and 4,200 toilets improved.  There will be no open defecation or flying-toilets in 4 out of 6 zones in the settlements (8 villages out of 13). 60% of residents have access to adequate on-plot sanitation (from 10%) and at-point hand-washing facilities (from 15%) and the communities have the organisational capacity and financial access to complete the remaining 40% after project.

Our minimum standards:

  • 1 toilet per 4 households (within UN ratio of 1 toilet to 20 people)
  • Structure providing security and privacy to users
  • Surfaces that can be cleaned effectively
  • Sufficient lighting
  • Capture systems appropriate to the needs of the residents, including ease of use for children and the elderly, and soil conditions
  • At-point hand-washing facilities.

Improvement in sanitation facilities and reduction in open defecation will:

  • reduce the incidence of disease
  • reduce income loss through sickness and medical expenses
  • improve the health and development of children
  • increase income to community based sanitation providers through demand for services

As importantly, the success of this project will establish the mechanism (i.e. policies, financial instruments, processes and plans) and capacity within local institutions (community, government, finance, private sector sanitation service providers) to enable them to implement the approach in the remaining slums in Nakuru and more widely across Kenya.

Evaluation highlights: Realising the Right to Total Sanitation in Nakuru, Kenya

An overview of the Realising the Right to Total Sanitation project that ran in Nakuru, Kenya from 2012 to 2015, including key activities and innovations, challenges faced and lessons for future practice.


Practical Action at the 38th WEDC international Conference

At the 8th WEDC International Conference 2015 dubbed “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services Beyond 2015: Improving Access and Sustainability”, Practical Action Eastern Africa presented the lessons learned following the successful sanitation intervention project Realising the Rights to Total Sanitation in Nakuru, Kenya.

These findings have been used to inform policy at county level on the need for sanitation investment and appropriate resourcing of the sector which in the past had been shadowed in ball-pack water supply investment plans.

Practical Action at the 36th WEDC international Conference

During the course of the conference we took the opportunity to showcase the CLTS approaches that are taking place right on its doorstop in Kaptembwo and Rhonda. To do this we:

  • Held a side event with residents, community health volunteers, project staff and others to learn from them about their experiences.
  • Presented a paper on our work on Solid Waste Management in Nakuru.
  • Led a capacity development workshop so that participants could go and see first-hand the challenges and opportunities of working on CLTS in an urban context out in the communities.

 

Urban community-led total sanitation: A case study of Nakuru

Paper presented at the WEDC conference 2013. Authors: P. Mwanzia & W. Misati (Nakuru, Kenya).

WEDC Side event on Urban CLTS, Tuesday 3rd July 2013.

Notes on the Side event 'Realising the Right to Total Sanitation: Hybrid CLTS Nakuru’s Experience.' Practical Action and Umande Trust.

Poster - Urban Citizen Led Total Sanitation (UCLTS) and Technology Justice: The Nakuru Experiences

Blog: Sanitation in Nakuru’s low-income urban areas

We had two very interesting activities on our last day at the WEDC conference in Nakuru, Kenya. In the morning, we made an exciting visit to a Rhonda area in Nakuru, in order to learn about the initiatives of Practical Action and Umande Trust there ...

Find out more
  • Find out more about Community Led Total Sanitation on this video

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Dying for the loo

Helen Bosibori she looks tired; almost beaten. Her eyes scan the yard: “When it rains the waste flows all over the place,” she says. “Alfred and the other children step in the filthy water and they go back into their homes and take it in with them.”

Alfred is nearly three. He is one of the children who live in the tiny rooms which surround the yard. He is sitting on a mound of concrete and stones, which used to contain the communal toilets he and his 40 or so neighbours shared.
A year ago the toilets collapsed in Helen’s yard. Now they lie on the floor like a huge festering blanket, attracting flies.

Helen lives in Kaptembwo, a slum area of Nakuru, Kenya.  Within the yard where Helen lives are a dozen or so families living in unimaginably cramped conditions, each sharing a single room, with two long drop toilets between them which smell horrendous.

Between March and May it often rains heavily. Because the toilets are just a hole over a pit, they flood and the filth floats up and covers the yard. Children throughout the slums of Nakuru hate this time of year because their parents won’t let them outside to play.

When this happens, and at other times if there is a long queue to use the toilet, desperate children have to relieve themselves in a bag. The bags (known locally as flying toilets) are then thrown away in the streets.For thousands of people in Kenya, living in a street with flying toilets is nothing special. Living in yards with revolting communal toilets from which shit and used sanitary products float up to your doorstep isn’t unusual. Children suffering from diarrhoea and cholera are common. This is normal.

Helen Bosibori, aged 30, lives here with her four children. She runs a small shop just at the front of the building. She might look beaten, but it’s clear she’s not; she’s raging.

“I wouldn’t ever have imagined my children having to grow up in this kind of environment. It offends me that my children have to come into contact with all this. Around twice a month they get sick. They have bowel problems, diarrhoea and they vomit and cough a lot. My eldest girl wants to be a doctor, my oldest boy wants to be a pilot and my smallest one wants to be a teacher but with illness they miss school regularly. I know if my children have to miss time off school they will not be able to become what they want in the future, but living here makes this happen."

For Helen Bosibori, Practical Action's project may have just arrived in time. “If there is a concentrated plan to improve the situation in this area it would make me very happy. I would just like to see and live in a better environment so my children are able to be the best they can be.”

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