From flying toilets to fertiliser, slum sanitation in Nairobi is changing

Clar Ni Chonghaile –Guardian – Tuesday, 20 November 2012 (originally published 19 Nov)

Children in front of a slum toilet
The insecurity and health hazards of Nairobi slum toilets are being reduced by a new scheme offering safe, clean facilities. Image: David Levene

Dennis Ochieng balances precariously with one leg on either side of a narrow trench running through a small alleyway in Mukuru, a network of slums around Nairobi’s industrial area.

“Before, this place was a mess,” he says, explaining that the trench used to be full of “flying toilets” – plastic bags full of urine and faeces. Today, those bags are nowhere in sight. “It’s great,” agrees Alex Wekesa, a 26-year-old businessman who runs two 3ft-by-5ft Fresh Life toilets in the alley.

The toilets are made by Sanergy, a Kenya-based social enterprise, and sold to individuals for around $500 each. A 14-strong “Fresh Life frontline” team collects the waste each day and takes it to a processing site, where it is turned into organic fertiliser.

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