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Making a people-powered change

In Kenya we’re empowering and protecting communities with a clever combination of improved access to sanitation and better hygiene education.

Active Project

The Challenge

Kisumu is Kenya’s third largest city. Most residents live in informal settlements without access to clean water or toilet facilities, causing serious health problems.

  • Many landlords only provide a single toilet for up to seven families to use. These are often in poor condition and rarely cleaned.
  • Lots of people go to the toilet outside, so people have to put up with the sight (and smell) of human waste as they go about their day.
  • All this waste being out in the open increases the risk of people picking up diseases such as typhoid and dysentery.
  • Kisumu is prone to flooding, so every time it rains contaminated water and waste flow through the streets.
  • With nowhere to wash hands safely, diseases are easily passed between people and outbreaks are common.

“I can see that every day people are off school because they are sick.  It’s usually stomach problems.  I too have been off school for stomach problems.”

Makena, Health Champion, Obunga

The Ingenious Solution

Together with Comic Relief we improved water and sanitation in two of Kisumu’s slums, Nyalenda and Obunga by supporting the local community to take the lead in creating new systems and services to ensure clean, safe water and toilet facilities for everyone.

  • We’ve built stronger relationships between local authorities and residents to give them more of a say on sanitation plans and developments in their area.
  • Introduced low-cost sanitation equipment and investment incentives for landlords, 2,500 new clean water points and 3750 improved toilets have been installed.
  • Provided technical training to 100 artisans and at least 20 pit-emptiers to safely remove waste and maintain toilet facilities. Giving these workers a recognized skill and increasing their income.
  • Enrolled 120 community volunteers to champion the Community Led Total Sanitation Approach (CLTS) in 15 areas with support from public health officers.
  • Through global awareness days our volunteers have promoted handwashing in 24 schools, reaching a total of 25,000 children through awareness days.
  • Given advice and support on good menstrual hygiene management to 10,000 girls and 5,000 young mothers.

“We teach people how to wash their hands properly before and after eating to avoid communicable diseases. I’m passionate about sanitation. I was born and grew up here and want to change it. That is why I volunteer. We must do something to help.”

Maurice Ongawo, Community Health Champion, Kisumu, Kenya



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