Waste to Energy Program

Inappropriate disposal of solid household waste presents a source of pollution and a risk to human health in Kibera. Three-quarters of all waste is organic material. 150 tonnes to 200 tonnes of waste is generated daily (Umande Trust, 2007).

The portable household biogas plant will deal sufficiently with all organic waste.

In view of the fact that solid waste management in Kibera is a big challenge and that there is no legal or institutional framework to address it, Kibera waste to energy program aims to identify intervention points at which the situation can be remedied.

There is evidence of utter laxity by the City Council of Nairobi in ensuring effective solid waste management in Kibera. Among the serious problems encountered in the solid waste management efforts are poor roads, lack of appropriate equipment, low income, ignorance, indiscriminate dumping and lack of sufficient community support. Organized groups such as the youth groups, community based organizations and non-governmental organizations are vital in playing a leading role to address the resulting crisis.

As the household unit is the major waste generation point in Kibera, our strategy in establishing a sustainable solid waste management program is to promote a system that will ensure proper handling at the household level.

The introduction of a portable household biogas plant, averagely 50 litres in capacity, will in the long term deal sufficiently with the problem of unsafe disposal. All organic household waste is intended for production of biogas and bio-fertilizer.

As a consequence of high cost of electricity, more than 70% of slum dwellers lack electricity. Kibera residents have to rely almost exclusively on kerosene, firewood and charcoal for their daily cooking and lighting needs.

Biogas is a source of environmentally positive energy that is by far more economically favorable to residents than kerosene or firewood. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, the plant will generate sufficient biogas for every cooking and lighting need of an average household in Kibera.

Several organizations are investing heavily on improved sanitation in Kibera.

Umande Trust is working to improve sanitation through erection of biogas toilets which mainly produce methane from human waste. Their efforts, though commendable, fail to address the problem of household waste.

Carolina for Kibera is working to improve sanitation through establishment of a waste recycling plant. Their commendable efforts only take care of a small percentage of the population in Kibera.

Despite every effort, Kibera is still characterized by huge open dump sites and blocked sewers which continue to pose health risks to residents.

With the continued influx of immigrants, the problem is projected to become even worse. More than 34% of Kenya’s total population lives in urban areas and of this, more than 71% is confined in informal settlements. Rapid population growth in the City has continued to strain infrastructure development and service delivery including solid waste management (UN-Habitat, 2009).

We now seek energy recovery at the household level.

Our concern has shifted from disposal of waste to minimization, recycling, treatment and energy recovery. The basic premise is that solid waste need not be considered merely as a menace but rather as a resource.

Implementation of these modern concepts coupled with effective institutional arrangements and a high technical and logistical know how to operate an efficient waste collection and treatment system, will permanently get rid of the problem.

In order for this project to succeed and have a lasting impact, community involvement in it’s planning and implementation is key. 100% of materials needed to assemble the household plant are readily available to residents. Technical training is given to youth groups, community based organizations, residents and other organizations.

Achievements:

  • Kibera waste to energy program promotes the health of vulnerable groups, especially those living in informal settlements. Decomposing organic waste may provide a breeding site for insect vectors, pests, snakes and vermin that increase the likelihood of disease transmission.
  • Kibera waste to energy program improves the environmental quality of human habitation.
  • Kibera waste to energy program supports economic development of vulnerable groups by creating an alternative source of energy for cooking and lighting. Biogas is by far more economically favorable to residents than kerosene or firewood.
  • Kibera waste to energy program creates employment and income for those engaged in the program. Electricity generated from biogas could power several small scale industrial applications.

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