In the Kiambiu slums of Nairobi, Kenya, the disposal of faecal waste is a serious environmental and health issue. Due to the lack of an appropriate waste management system, the people of the slums often use what is known as ‘flying toilets’ – a colloquial term that describes the act of defecating into a plastic bag and throwing the waste towards the river. As this practice is widespread, the volume of waste along the Nairobi River has reached an unsustainable level, and causes many worrying health and environmental problems. For instance, faecal matter contains harmful and often contagious material, contaminates the water supply. Further, faecal matter attracts vermin and flies which spread diseases amongst the slum’s inhabitants.
Tzedek’s partner Sub-Sahara aims to alleviate the strain of this faecal pollution on the 1,000 worst affect households in the Kiambiu slum by creating a use for the faecal matter as part of a grub composting scheme.
The project will provide sustainable bio-pods, in which the community will establish and maintain a colony of black soldier fly larvae (grub). The grub, which thrive on faecal matter as their diet, eliminate the odour and remove all harmful toxins from the faecal matter, turning it into manure. The manure is then used to enrich the soil of kitchen gardens, allowing the slums occupants to grow their own vegetables. As grubs are not harmful to humans, this method of composting is both safe and renewable.
In building and sustaining the grub composts this project will help produce a cleaner environment, and will reduce the amount of water contamination cases. This will mean better living conditions for families along the riverbanks, and should lead to a drop in the incidence rate of diseases. In addition, the project will provide an education in establishing grub colonies and in the use of manure for kitchen gardens. This increased knowledge will be vital in the project as a successful grub colony and kitchen garden can bring in a supplemental income for the family running them. For instance, a wheelbarrow’s worth of compost could be sold for 50 KES/ £0.35 and 500g of dried larvae can be sold for 150 KES/ £1. Grubs are an excellent form of nutrition for farmyard animals, and in this way the cost of rearing animals will also be reduced.
2915 people have been trained in grub composting in the first 6 months and they are now about to start the grub composting itself. After the second half of the project, beneficiaries should expect to see numerous benefits.
The Knock-on Effect
As grub composting is a very simple, renewable form of waste management, it is easily replicated. It is anticipated that after the first 1000 households become adept at grub composting they will teach and help others in their community establish their own grub colonies. Although the use of ‘flying toilets’ is widespread, it is hoped that in showing a viable alternative, this practice will become less prevalent. The benefits to the wider community are impressive, as the entire area will experience a lower level of water contamination and a lower infection rate.