Sanergy at World Water Week: A Recap

Last month, Sanergy participated in the World Water Week. The World Water Week is an annual global event that brings together leaders and experts in the WASH sector to exchange ideas, experiences and shape sustainable solutions to global water and sanitation challenges.

Participation in forums such as the World Water Week helps to deepen our understanding on what it takes to provide integrated city-wide sanitation to residents living in cities like Nairobi, where we work. It also helps us to share new insights from our work with like minded partners like the government on how to integrate policy and best practices. The Kenyan WASH space was well represented with leaders spanning across the national and county government, utilities, academia and leading private sector practitioners. These included among others:  Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company, Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Nairobi County, APHRC (African Population and Health Research Center) and Sanergy.

The World Water Week was timely for Sanergy, coming against the backdrop of the Shit Flow Diagram (SFD), which was launched in July of this year.  The SFD (Shift Flow Diagram) was the culmination of a multi-stakeholder process that involved the county and national government, utilities, community members across Nairobi, practitioners and academia to create Nairobi County’s  first ever official Shit Flow Diagram. Key findings of the SFD are that 34% of waste in Nairobi is safely treated. The rest – 66% ends up untreated in the Nairobi River or in the open environment, a significant health and environmental risk. The majority of the waste leakage is post-containment, at the transport and treatment stages and in non-sewered areas – largely informal settlements where low-income populations live and are therefore at the most risk.

Key partners in the Kenyan WASH sector

During the week-long deliberations, Sanergy and key partners discussed the importance of forging partnerships towards finding sustainable solutions that are anchored on the findings of the SFD.  A key solution is the adoption and implementation of alternative solutions to make sure that Nairobi County serves all of its citizens. Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company for example, committed to increasing sewerage coverage, as well as construct more desludging points.  While there’s progress being made, there’s much more that needs to be done. If we are to edge closer to realizing SDG 6.2 and serve all of Nairobi’s residents with safe sanitation, going forward it is pertinent that:

a) Utilities and county governments review sanitation solutions and ensure that adopted technologies ensure safe sludge collection, transportation, and treatment.

b) Accelerate the enactment of Water and Sanitation Policy and law at county level – building on the Kenya Sanitation and Hygiene Policy 2016( KESH), enabling practitioners, investors, and government to operate more cogently.

c) County Government, in collaboration with the private sector should promote low cost technologies – (such as UDDT (Urine Diverting Dry Technologies) – where sewerage network system is not available, such as the informal settlements where we work.

d) All stakeholders champion the SFD as an advocacy tool to inspire action among communities living in informal settlements. This can be done through initiatives such as Nairobi County’s Special Planning Area project which is helping to structure urban planning in informal settlements.

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