Building Partnerships Across Africa

Sanergy has partnered with the Pollution Research Group (PRG), University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to improve our R&D Lab in Nairobi, Kenya. The PRG, led by Sanergy Advisor Chris Buckley, is a preeminent team at the forefront of researching human waste across the entire sanitation value chain. Earlier this month, Merlien Reddy, Senior Lab Technician at UKZN, took a short sabbatical from the PRG to support Sanergy as we build out our facility here. We interviewed Merlien to hear her insights on our work and our team. We want to thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for sponsoring this critical knowledge-sharing and capacity-building work.

MReddy and Lilian in Lab
Merlien Reddy works with Sanergy Soil Science Specialist, Dr. Lilian Mbuthia, in Sanergy’s lab.

What is your role at the university?

I am responsible for overseeing and facilitating research activities and analysis in the Biochemical Engineering Laboratory. This includes organization and supply of lab equipment, operational supervision of researchers and students, and issues related to health and safety.

Tell us about the partnership with Sanergy.

Professor Chris Buckley, who is the head of the Pollution Research Group and an expert in urban and industrial water management, is Sanergy’s friend and advisor. Chris has always been invested in helping Sanergy improve its research processes. As Sanergy seeks to scale up, the partnership with the university is geared toward increasing efficiency, productivity, and quality for Sanergy’s laboratory operations.

Tell us about the purpose of your visit to our organization.

I am really excited to visit Sanergy because they are improving the lives of community members through research.

Under the guidance of Professor Chris Buckley, I am out here to see Sanergy’s laboratory and interact with the team that works in it. Key areas that we are focused on improving include: health and safety, data management, and chemical waste management. The team is also in the process of shifting to a new laboratory site, and I’ll be helping with working on a new layout for the lab.

In your opinion, what does Sanergy’s future in research work and growth look like?

I see a lot of potential and growth of Sanergy’s research hub. Projects like the Black Soldier Flies in particular will go a long way toward solving systemic challenges. Through investing in better research technologies, Sanergy is taking the right steps toward that growth.

What do you think about the young talent in the laboratory?

In the short period I have interacted with the team, I see a lot of potential in them as future research experts. They are very knowledgeable, and I have also learned so much from them. With a better-equipped laboratory and great partners such as the Pollution Research Group for exchange learning, there’s a platform for the young researchers to widen their knowledge base.

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